12 December 2010

Big Star Third: Mark’s Review and Photos!

Many thanks to my friend Mark Rockwell, the author of the fabulous Reveal Tribute, for sending his report and gorgeous photos from the second night of the Big Star shows in North Carolina! Yes, Mark was one of the lucky folks who attended the special performance of Big Star’s album Third/Sister Lovers in original orchestral arrangements restored by Chris Stamey of the dB’s fame. The in-house band consisted of Chris Stamey (guitar), Mitch Easter (guitar), Mike Mills (bass) and Jody Stephens (drums), and they performed with a host of guests, mostly local musicians from North Carolina. Here’s Mark’s reflection on the night:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I wouldn’t have known anything about Big Star if it wasn’t for the nods that R.E.M. has given them over the years by covering Big Star’s version of the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” and Big Star’s own “Jesus Christ.” As it is, though, the involvement of Mike Mills in the planned two-night performance of Big Star’s THIRD album, at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC, made the prospect of purchasing the album and going to the show a priority for me. By the time the music started last night I’d listened through THIRD one full time, so, really, the show’s performance of the entire album was very much still an introduction for me to the music of Big Star. The sole living member of Big Star, Jody Stephens, played drums while a handful of other notables filled out the band including Mitch Easter (produced CHRONIC TOWN, MURMUR and RECKONING for R.E.M.) and Mike Mills of R.E.M. But, really, the names and the identities of the individuals were just details. The assembled whole arrangement (guest vocalists, horns, and strings from the North Carolina Symphony, etc.) and the performance itself was an awe-inspiring occasion that left me overwhelmed with awe by the range of emotion, spirit, beautiful music, and community that characterized the evening. It was at times brooding, haunting, and reflective and at other times celebratory and light. The highlights for me were “Nature Boy,” “Kangaroo,” “Holocaust,” “Femme Fatale,” and Mike Mills taking the lead on vocals for “Jesus Christ.”

Before the night was over, however, my appreciation for the music would be eclipsed by a brief conversation I was able to have with Jody Stephens and most especially by meeting the man I was originally most concerned with when I decided to go, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills. Fairly overwhelmed by the reality that I was talking to a major part of my favorite band for the prior twenty years of my life, I was barely able to vocalize a coherent and complete thought without tripping over my own words. Regardless, he proved, in the short conversation we had, how much of a nice guy he is. We discussed my experiences in Athens and our mutual respect for R.E.M. product manager Kevin O’Neil and my favorite R.E.M. album REVEAL which he characterized as the most underrated album in the catalog. I left the show on a very natural high that has carried through twenty-four hours later. I spent some time listening to THIRD today and it now serves as a tangible soundtrack and reminder to one of the most memorable shows I’ve ever attended and one of the better evenings of my life since it was the evening that I met Mike Mills.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Mark has also sent some fantastic photos (including the pictures of himself with Mike and Jody), so view them in our Gallery! Oh and speaking of Gallery, I have finally uploaded the first batch of photos from Mike’s summer gigs with The Baseball Project. As you probably remember, Mike joined Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon for two shows in August – in Hoboken NJ, and at the Solid Sound Festival in Massachussets, organised and headlined by Wilco. Many thanks to the photographers who have allowed me to add their pictures to the gallery; I will be uploading many more in the next few days.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


8 Responses to “Big Star Third: Mark’s Review and Photos!”

  1. Mark Says:

    Thanks for posting this Ivana winking

  2. BIG STAR’S THIRD Live Tribute Show Review « m e a n d e r s Says:

    [...] My review of the 12/10/10 BIG STAR’S THIRD tribute show that Mike Mills played in featured on Mike Mills Tribute [...]

  3. Ivana Says:

    Aww Mark, as Big Star would put it: “Thank you my friend!”

  4. Kay in KCMO Says:

    Wow! Thanks to Mark for the thoughtful write-up and the great pics!

  5. Mark Says:

    ’twas surely my pleasure. A memorable night that will not soon be forgotten.

  6. R.E.M.’s Reveal « The Sun Reflected In The Back Of My Eye Says:

    [...] My review of the 12/10/10 BIG STAR’S THIRD tribute show that Mike Mills played in featured on Mike Mills Tribute [...]

  7. REVEAL Revered: Celebrating Ten Summers « The Sun Reflected In The Back Of My Eye Says:

    [...] My review of the 12/10/10 BIG STAR’S THIRD tribute show that Mike Mills played in featured on Mike Mills Tribute [...]

  8. The Sun Reflected In The Back Of My Eye Says:

    [...] My review of the 12/10/10 BIG STAR’S THIRD tribute show that Mike Mills played in featured on Mike Mills Tribute [...]

Leave a Reply

Filled Under: News & Features