The Minicon concert was unique, the first live concert from the Cats in decades, with an audience full of Cats fans who had been coming to Minicon all along and more who had not attended in ten years or fifteen or twenty but came back for this, and one of Richard Tatge's signature light shows. It was entirely magical and it kept making me cry.
This was a shorter concert with a slightly different set list. Sister Tree opened with three songs, including, to my profound delight, "The Witch of the Westmerlands." There was a minor confusion over the lyrics, but it was resolved, and it's a long song. I've seen professional musicians at major European tours mess up songs with two verses and some spiraling choruses, getting into the wrong spiral and having a heck of a time getting out again, so I don't think this was really an issue. If you were there for sound check, you got to hear Sister Tree do an additional song, so that was all very lovely and a grand introduction.
The band were in great spirits, which meant they had to make a lot of bad jokes and Emma had to roll her eyes at them a lot. I suspect there were some bad musical jokes later on, but I'm not skilled enough to be sure. The music was insanely good. They did a profoundly satisfying "Black Knight's Work" and they did songs I'm not really all that fond of like "Big Boss Man" with such verve and style that I liked them. They did a somehow particularly irony-laden "Tellers of Tales," Adam being very good at layering irony. My favorite piece was a long, long stretch that started with an exceptionally sharp and snarky take on Emma's "Wear My Face," diverted into a song sung splendidly by Lojo that I know and like and loved then, but cannot at the moment remember; and then returned to Emma with "Signal to Noise" and "For It All" with so much verve and energy and poetry that they could have stopped there and left me happy. But they didn't. They did a haunting "Gloomy Sunday" and then they did "Elijah," and Lojo put her bass away and made story-telling gestures, building and taking down the wall and exhorting the people and shaping bread and flesh. You could see ravens in the shadows by the end. As an encore they played a teasing version of "Not Fade Away" (NOT MY FAVORITE SONG) that kept you thinking it was going to be another song that I knew at the time but have also forgotten. It's a good thing I'm not a music reviewer. When skzbrust saw me afterwards he said, "I didn't know you were here! I'd have told them not to do 'Not Fade Away.'" They'd have done it anyway, of course, and it was actually fine. Nostalgia has its place.
I'm glad I didn't have to choose between the Minicon concert and this one. But this one just sparked and shone and shot off fireworks and did cartwheels.
I sat with arkuat andlydy (dd_b was taking photographs (1500, he said, by the end), and got to briefly greet minnehaha K and Fred and Susan and Alis who are not effectively on LJ, and my goddaughter Toni and Jen and fgherman. I saw many, many more people in the audience whom I knew, and that was part of the huge charm and excitement as well.