Same as he ever was

By MICHAEL ATCHISON  |  November 26, 2008

DESPITE THE FACT THAT MANY OF THE SONGS IN THE SET COME FROM DEEP IN YOUR PAST, THE SHOW DOESN'T SEEM NOSTALGIC IN THE LEAST. WHAT'S IT LIKE FOR YOU TO REVISIT AN EARLY STAGE OF YOUR CAREER IN SUCH DEPTH?
It's been fun because I haven't done it in a while. There [are some songs] that I've done quite often on tour, but there are other ones that I haven't done for 30 years. So it's kind of fun, with this band, to pull them out, and go, "Wow, that's a pretty great song or a wacky song" and see what you have.

THE AUDIENCE IS CLEARLY HUNGRY FOR THOSE SONGS. YOU PLAY "CROSSEYED AND PAINLESS" OR "HOUSES IN MOTION" AND THE PLACE EXPLODES, AND YOU SEEM GENUINELY GRATIFIED BY THE RESPONSE.
Uh-huh.

IT'S GOOD TO BE LOVED, I SUPPOSE.
[laughs] Yes, it's a pretty nice response.

I DON'T WANT TO GIVE TOO MUCH AWAY FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T SEEN THE SHOW, BUT IT FEATURES DANCERS, AND SOME OF THE CHOREOGRAPHY INCLUDES YOU. THE STAGING IS SIMPLE, BUT THE PRODUCTION IS INVENTIVE. I THINK THAT'S A RECURRING THEME FOR YOU, PERHAPS MOST FAMOUSLY PRESENTED INSTOP MAKING SENSE — THE ABILITY TO GET BIG IMPACT OUT OF SIMPLE LIGHTING OR MOVEMENT.
Where's the question there?

WHAT I'M GETTING AT IS THAT THERE'S AN IMMENSE AMOUNT OF WORK PUT INTO IT, AND I DON'T THINK THE AUDIENCE REALIZES IT UNTIL YOU'RE ABOUT HALFWAY INTO THE SHOW, AND YOU SEE HOW ALL THESE THINGS FIT TOGETHER WITHOUT EXPLOSIONS OR EFFECTS. I ASSUME THERE WERE SOME CHOREOGRAPHERS INVOLVED IN PUTTING IT TOGETHER.
Yes, three different ones. That was a relief that that all worked together. That was a big relief. I spent a lot of time thinking about that, and then bringing in the choreographers, auditioning the dancers, and we spent a really solid month creating and rehearsing that stuff before putting it in front of any audience. I thought this is either going to fall flat on its face and people are going to say, "What the fuck? This is the most pretentious piece of bullshit I've ever seen," or they're going to love it. And thank God, for the most part everyone seems to like it.

I THINK IT TAKES THEM A SONG OR TWO TO ADJUST, TO KIND OF FIGURE OUT WHAT THEY'RE SEEING.
Yeah, yeah, I can sense that — that the first time the dancers come out, they go, "Oh, yeah, that was kind of cool, but is that it? Is that what we're gonna see?" And then it takes at least one or two more songs before people go, "Oh, it's gonna be slightly different all the time, they're gonna do different kinds of things," and then they go, "Ohhhhh," and you can kind of sense that moment where the audience goes, "This is what we're gonna get."

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