Tom Waits - Live Review

Tom Waits

Orpheum Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona, Wed 18 Jun

The seldom touring ‘love or hate him’ artist transported his trademark whisky-soaked growl to the desert to kick off only his third tour of the decade. And, judging by his polished performance, one can only ask – why so few and far between Tom?

Tom Waits is one of those artists whose enigma runs parallel to his creative aura. And Waits’ stage presence – porkpie hat, vintage suit, board-stomps and colorful megaphones – did little to distract from his almost literary persona. While witty, odd and weighty, Waits missed some cues, restarting songs from the middle and his interaction with the crowd seemed a little forced at times. But are you going to complain? Come on! Give the 58-year-old a break for being a tad grouchy in the sweltering heat.

Opening with the obscure ‘Lucinda’ from 2006’s Orphans . . . he came off as more of a rocker than the smoky lounge lizard personified in his earlier work.

‘Hoist That Rag’ featured Tom’s son Sullivan joining his other son Casey on percussion. Other highlights included ‘Lost in the Harbour’, featuring Waits on a tiny organ and ‘16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought Six’, which had the gravelly one stomping over the stage like a scalded dog.

After ‘November’ and ‘Eyeball Kid’ Waits tipped his hat and said goodnight. Highly theatrical but undeniably natural, Tom Waits is and always will be an American original.

This article was originally published in Glide magazine.

Tom Waits

Twice in a life-time chance to see the growly-voiced genius.

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