A Night That Changed My Life

by Clive Young

This story takes forever, so you might want to get a beer before you continue....

In 1989, I went to see Love And Money at the Palladium in New York City. The show was on the third floor in the bar--an area that held maybe 200 people tops. The opening act was a group from Scarsdale (a hoity-toity suburb of NYC) called Too Much Joy--and they were great. They were a poppy, punky band with too much wit and not enough talent, and I was blown away. They were a horrible match for L&M's sophisticated sounds, but for me, they were awesome. The group was on a fledgling indie label at the time and was hoping to make the jump to the major labels, but that was the least of their concerns that night.

The big problem was that their parents were in the audience--old folks who were dressed in cardigans and were about 30 years older than the rest of the leather-jacketed crowd. The guys in Too Much Joy were so embarrassed that they just kept drinking...and drinking. So TMJ had funny, funny songs that were catchy and they were just plain drop dead drunk on stage--just the way to impress all the music industry people in the audience.

Actually, there were a lot of industry people there, mainly because Mercury (L&M's label in America) had treated L&M like crap and didn't promote them; hence, the label workers all had to show up at the gig to make it look like people came to the show. I knew a lot of them because I had interned at Mercury's publicity department the previous summer.

Once TMJ was done, I spotted my all-time favorite artist, Lloyd Cole, at the bar. I couldn't just let the guy have some peace, so I went over to bother him. It turned out he'd come to see the show and hang with Bobby Paterson (L&M's bassist) afterwards. Luckily for me, I'd interviewed Lloyd for my college newspaper a few months earlier and he actually recognized me and offered to buy me a drink. I was in awe--my hero wanted to buy ME a beer. However, between having three finals the next day and still being under 21 (drinking age in the US), I declined.

I still kick myself about that.

So, making conversation, I asked what he'd thought of the opening act, and he replied, "HA--The world already has one Replacements; we don't need another one."

This comment caused two important things--
1. It opened my eyes that your heroes are not always right about everything; they're human.
2. It was overheard by someone at the bar who was a friend of TMJ's, and apparently that person ran over to the band and said something approximate to: "Hey, Lloyd Cole's over there and he said YOU SUCK!!!"

I left Lloyd to his drink, and went off in search of TMJ so that I could buy a T-shirt from them. When I found them, lo and behold, they were in the middle of a chat with Lloyd, so I gave them space. After Lloyd left, I went over to TMJ and bought a T-shirt and a CD from them. TMJ claimed they'd been telling Lloyd off and he'd been saying that someone else at the bar must have said it (I'd thought it was Lloyd giving them advice or something. I can be clueless sometimes).

L&M came on and James greeted the round of cheers by saying, "This is a very special night for us on this tour of America. That's because there's people in the audience."

This did not endear him to the record company people.

There were maybe 70-80 people in the place, so it was easy to walk up to the stage side, where I watched in awe for the rest of the show. They played a lot of B-sides and tunes that ended up on the Dogs In The Traffic album, which I didn't hear until 1995 because it was never released in the U.S. I danced, I sang, I was the only one who cheered when James announced he was going to play "Looking For Angeline" (which was still only a B-side in those days). When it was all over, I was happy, exhausted, and satisfied. It may have been clichˇ, but I had indeed been rocked.

So I traveled home, got in around 2 AM, slept for two hours, got up, went to work doing security desk at a college dorm from 4-8 AM, and then went to my three finals (which I passed with flying colors, much to my complete amazement, considering the circumstances).

So how did that night change my life?

Eventually, I started TMJ's fan club with the full cooperation of the band. They put out a few albums on Warner Bros. here in the US, none of which were ever released overseas, I believe. Doing the newsletter and producing a fan club 45 gave me experience which helped me get my job today--writing about recording studios and concert sound systems for a trade magazine here. I eventually passed the club to some other fans, but it was fun for about five years and I saw countless TMJ shows for free before they broke up.

If I had used common sense and not gone to a concert in the city the night before finals, I'd never have discovered TMJ; would never have started a feud between them and Cole (who now jams with their ex-bassist on a regular basis in a group called Brillantine); and never would have seen L&M. It was a great night, truly my favorite concert-going story.

This has nothing to do with Love And Money, kids. It's my SECOND favorite concert story, about the time I saw a band from Texas, Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians (remember "What I Am?"), at the old Town & Country Club in London. I was there by myself and spent the entire night chatting up this cute girl and her equally cute friend. By the end of the night, the three of us were well beered and things were looking like they could get rather interesting once the concert was over.

Finally, the show ended. The band took it's well-deserved bow, and following tradition, the drummer threw his sticks into the crowd. And one ricocheted off the cute girl's head. She screamed, "OWWWWWWWW! Fucking Americans!"

That was the end of my chances with her.

Adding insult (to me) to (her) injury, I missed catching the stick because it took a bad bounce off her noggin. Maybe it's just as well, though; I'd have wanted to keep it as a souvenir, but probably would have given it to her, all things considered. :P

Anyway, that's the story.

Clive Young
New York

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