Is anybody else a Music Geek here? I mean, the sort of person who watched (or read — or most likely did both) “High Fidelity,” and thought “yeah…that’s me…”

In a previous incarnation (about ten years ago), I used to write music reviews for the local Madison morning newspaper.

One of these days, I’ll come to London having read an issue of Time Out beforehand. Because if I do, I’d probably be able to get tickets to shows long before they sell out.

(I don’t like ticket touts/scalpers. I don’t like using them. I’ve only ever used them on one occasion: what was — for me, at any rate — a once in a lifetime show: The Who with Paul Weller, at the Royal Albert Hall.)

So anyway, this week there’s all kinds of great music around London.

Paul Kelly (nod to any Australians out there) is playing a few gigs; Saturday, Happy Mondays reunited for a show (sold out); yesterday, The Shins and Fountains of Wayne were playing at different venues; tonight, Stereolab sold out the Garage; the day after I leave, Modest Mouse comes to town.

Pardon me but…

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

I know this entire trip is about my Dad, but that’s just FAR too evil to dangle before me at a time like this.

The only shows I had any hope of seeing were either the Shins or Fountains of Wayne last night, both of which probably WOULD sell out on the day.

I was in a pretty rotten mood as I headed out to check the venues. I hadn’t glanced at my Tube map before taking the 188 bus to Holborn. Had I done so, I would have noticed that the Islington Academy (where Fountains of Wayne was playing) was just a few stops up the Northern Line. Instead, II took a VERY circuitous route to get there, and was angry at having wasted about an hour.

Once there (around 5 p.m.), I was stunned to find that the ticket office wouldn’t open until 7 pm…but also found out that there were around 50 tickets left, for a venue that holds 800. So I made the decision to stick it out here instead of risking the Shins and another hour-long journey across London for a show that was possibly already sold out.

I found a mediocre but filling Vegan Thai restaurant (note to would-be restaurateurs: if you’re NOT going to use Fish Sauce, open something other than a Thai restaurant), and settled in for the long haul, guessing that I could find a pub and get some work done between 7 and 9 p.m., missing the opening act.

Uh-uh. Since the show was close too selling out, ticket touts were already operating in the area. Lest I try and sell my Sixteen Pound ticket for, say, Twenty Pounds, I was made to enter the venue as soon as I forked over my money.

There was a nice upstairs area with comfy chairs (“NOT the COMFY CHAIR!”), where I managed to get some more work done on DT 29 between 7 and 8 (seriously, I am VERY heavily emotionally invested in this issue), but I wasn’t really happy about it. I had never heard of the opening band, and wasn’t really in a mood to try anything new.

The lights go down, and…

…out comes Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood .

“We’d like to introduce one of our true musical heroes,” they say. ‘We still can’t belleve he’s doing this…Ladies and Gentlemen, GLENN TILBROOK!”

Glenn…Freaking…Tilbrook!

Of Squeeze fame! Of Difford and Tilbrook fame!

Glenn…Freaking…Tilbrook!

Glenn Tilbrook is there with a couple of guitars (a six-string and a twelve-string), and does a few songs from his new album (“Transatlantic Ping-Pong”), but mostly it’s a Squeeze’s Greatest Hits hour! “Pulling Mussels From A Shell,” “Take Me I’m Yours,” “Hour Glass” (with a GREAT audience participation bit), “The Truth” (from the HUGELY underrated “Play” album)…

And because I’d gotten there so early, I had an AWESOME vantage point to watch from!

It was just incredibly magical. Squeeze were always one of my musical icons (well-crafted pop and power pop are a couple of my Big Things), and to catch Glenn Tilbrook out of PURE dumb luck was just un…freaking…believable!

Fountains of Wayne ALSO rocked, harder than I thought possible, in fact. In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect from them live. I dreaded that their addictive, eclectic pop might translate into a dull, geeky show, but it was a powerful, intense evening that reminded me exactly WHY I love going to see live bands in the first place.

Opening with “It Must be Summer,” the band launched into a great selection of songs from 2003′s “Welcome Interstate Managers” as well as earlier material. “Stacy’s Mom,” “Lost In Space,” “Bright Future In Sales,” “Hey, Julie,” “Mexican Wine” and “Winter Valley Song” were all delivered with verve and gusto — amazing, considering how tired the band looked on this, the last show of their tour.

As one of three encores, Tilbrook came back onstage with them to do the Squeeze classic “Is That Love?”

If anybody had told me I’d be doing this,” noted Schlesinger, of playing onstage with Tilbrook, “I’d have s**t myself.”

Kinda how the audience felt, too…

WOW, I need to get to more shows.

****

My Dad’s recovery continues to amaze everyone. He came home on Friday, and today he and I walked a couple of blocks up New Kent Road, at a speed which — frankly — amazed me.

I suspect somersaults will be next…

*****

My sucky spellchecker does not have the word “Jalapeno” in it.

It suggests, as alternatives, “Julep,” “Jalopies” and (in an apparent Olympic moment) “Javelin.”

Nor, by the way, does it have the words “sucky” and “spellchecker.”

*****

If there IS a Dork Tower family, friends and readers get-together, how does Friday at the Old Thameside Inn work for people, say, from 7 pm onwards…?

*****

Oh, yeah. Here’s Pirate_Wench_6′s rather — ahem — heavily biased account of our Pirates of the Spanish Main battle at O’Hare…

Peas, out,

John

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