Adventures with Crowded House (and Garbage)
(Originally published on ABBAMAIL, Non ABBA Related and MySpace 2007)

The other night in Glendale they held a benefit called "Beat it Wally - Musicians Fighting Cancer" featuring Garbage, (some of) the Pixies, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and others. I've got a couple cds and an LP ("Beautiful Garbage") signed by the three guys in Garbage but needed Shirley (the singer) to sign them too. I also have cds and records by the other artists, so I brought them along. I went down to sound check around 2:30, I wanted to get there early because I figured with such a big line-up they would start rehearsing early. Sure enough, I had already missed Garbage's sound check and one of the guys in the band told me that Shirley had already left.

But since I was already there, I decided to wait around to see if I could get some other autographs. There was no one else waiting for most of the time, a couple other guys came and went but they were all looking for Garbage as well.
Bonnie Raitt pulled up around 4pm, driving herself, and got out of her car, picking her guitar out of the back seat. There were two of us who asked for her autograph, but she said she didn't have time.

Victoria Williams soon arrived with her guitarist, I had a couple of her cds and she was quite happy to sign them. I'm a big fan of her brothers, unfortunately named The Williams Brothers (there is an old gospel group with the same name) and I had a couple of their LPs just in case, but she said they weren't coming to the event.

Jackson Browne arrived around 5pm, by that point there were 8-10 guys collecting autographs. But Mr Browne said he didn't have time, although he unloaded his gear himself right in front of us, and spent a fair amount of time talking to some people near the artists entrance. He then got back in his SUV and parked it right in front of where we were standing, but again he said he didn't have time for us.

Around 5:30 Sheryl Crow arrived, she got out of her car with three guys, and everyone rushed over to get her autograph. She said, "You guys aren't going to sell these, are you?" and of course everyone said no. But she said, "I think you are." But she signed one thing per person, and went into the building. Almost all the autograph collectors left at this point.
But just before 6pm, Shirley Manson from Garbage came walking around the corner, with her long curly red hair and a long tan dress coat. There were only two of us left (everyone else had given up) but she put her hand up and said, quite bruskly, "I'm not signing anything tonight." She didn't even slow down.

By this time, pretty much everyone who was supposed to be there was already there, so I walked over to a nearby restaurant to get some dinner. I came back around 7pm, and I was debating what to do. I looked over at this one guy who had bushy hair, and then I though, "Hmm, that looks like Neil Finn." I took a few steps closer, and I realized, "that IS Neil Finn!" Well, I had seen Neil around LA several times, and I know he's a friend of Sheryl Crow, so that makes sense.
But I looked over and right next to him was Nick Seymour, from the original Crowded House. OH MY! And then, just around the corner, was Mark Hart, from the second incarnation of Crowded House. And then I realized that Neil had a guitar case in his hand. I had to get closer.

Neil was talking to someone, but Nick was just standing there, so I asked, "Are you guys playing tonight?" And he said, "yes, we just got in from Australia, we didn't find out about it until today." Then Neil was talking with us, and he asked if I was going to the show. I said, no, because I was really only there to see Garbage and at a benefit like this they would probably only play a couple songs. Neil said, "yeah, I think we're only doing two songs." I said, "If I'd known you were going to be here, I definitely would have bought a ticket!" They said they were in town to auditioning drummers for the tour; I said, "well, I'm a piano player so I'm of no use to you," and we all laughed as they went inside.
I decided to go home, but I was so excited about seeing one of my all-time favorite bands, by the time I was half way home, I knew I was going back. At home, I grabbed some Crowded House items to get signed, brushed my teeth, and drove back over to the theatre.

Meanwhile, I was dying. How could I stand outside, knowing that Crowded House were about to perform together for the first time in several years, just on the other side of that concrete wall. I think the last time I'd seen them together was at WOMAD, with Peter Gabriel, which must have been about 1996. I'd been to every Neil show since, both his solo shows and with his brother Tim, who was not there tonight.

I went around to the front.

By this time, they had already had the intermission, and I just walked up to the theatre like I had just gone out for a smoke (no smoking inside anywhere in LA, which is a great excuse to get "back" inside.) And no one stopped me. I acted like I knew where I was going, and walked up to the back of the balcony to see if I could find a vacant seat.

From there, I watched a few bands I'd never heard of, plus the Pixies and the New Animals. Then the announcer started talking about, this band wasn't advertised, and they are not on the marquee, but they've just flown in from Australia and this is their first live appearance. Back together again, "Crowded House." and the crowd roared (of course).

They played "Weather With You" and then people started shouting out CH song titles. But Mark moved to keyboards and they played "Don't Dream It's Over," several of the other performers came on stage and did back up vocals.
Then it was over.

But then Garbage came on, who I also love, so I decided to watch them. They were pretty good (of course), they started with "Queer" from their first album, then did a ballad from "Beautiful Garbage" and ended with "Bleed Like Me" from their last album.

Sheryl Crow came on, wearing the tightest jeans I've ever seen (and I've seen/worn some tight ones in my time) and she did her cover of Cat Stevens' "First Cut is the Deepest."

At this point, I was starting to worry that I'd miss Shirley leaving (I hoped she would reconsider signing at least my LP) and I wanted to see if I could talk to Crowded House some more and get my stuff signed.

By this time, a couple autograph guys had got word that Crowded House were there, and were waiting out back with several items to get signed. So we stood there and could hear Sheryl Crow playing through the wall.

Clinton of Parliament was sitting outside, and his minder asked us if we'd like to go backstage. Of course, the three of us, said yes, and he took us down stairs. They were all doing the final number, a Bob Marley song, and everyone was on stage. Shirley was standing to the side, about 2 feet from us, but she was watching the stage and I didn't want to interrupt her show.

But then we started to feel awkward, and I decided to go back outside and wait like a normal person, the other guys agreed and we all re-assumed our positions on the sidewalk like civilized stalkers.

Once the show was over, people started streaming out, and we got to talk to the three guys from Garbage. I talked to Duke a fair bit, and I said I was surprised to see Garbage together, as I had heard they broke up. He said, "no, we didn't break up, we just aren't working together any more," and kind of laughed. He said their Greatest Hits album has been delayed and will probably be delayed again, but when it comes out it will have a DVD. So that's something to look forward to.

Jackson Browne came out a bit later, but he refused to sign my two cds. Then Sheryl Crow came out; there were only three of us waiting, but she said, "no, you guys are going to sell them," and refused to sign our cds. More on this later, she obviously hasn't been online lately; her autographs are going for $4.99 on eBay (I checked).

I never did see Bonnie Raitt.

But Shirley came out, around 1am, and was greeted by several fairly intense fans. She seemed fairly uncomfortable/annoyed, but she did sign one item each and took pictures with a few fans. Then she was gone, back into the night from whence she came.

And the three of us did get to talk to Crowded House. They all signed all of our stuff (the other guys had many many items) and we talked about their new reunion album (out in April) and upcoming shows (Neil said they would be playing several small places around LA before Coachella and the tour).

You can see my photos of the show, a couple back stage, and the items they signed for me here.

Rod Reynolds, Los Angeles, USA

©2007 The Art Dept LA,

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