The concept of the live show sing-along seems silly at times. Sometimes the song seems purposely written for drunken fans to shout the chorus. Kiss – Rock And Roll All Nite and pretty much every Bon Jovi song seem to fit that bill. But Kiss and Bon Jovi are stadium-headlining-rockstars. They have the ability to hold the mic stand towards the crowd, cup their hand to their ear, and get their radio-friendly chorus shouted back at them in all the crowd’s monotone glory. (An aside: Ever seen an act try that and fail? It’s a sad occurance, and I do feel bad for them. But hey, they brought it on themselves.)
But when a sing-along is not expected, or coaxed, or specifically written to, it can be a glorious thing. Just the pure joy of a group of people that are so into the moment and the song that it just happens. No lead singer pointing to his left commanding, “Now just this side over here!”. No, “Come on, Quad Cities….I know you can sing louder than that!”
Paul Westerberg’s songs don’t usually lend themselves to sing-alongs. Or maybe his type of fan doesn’t risk making a local spectacle of themself. But it does happen. Folkery songs like If Only You Were Lonely and Waitress In The Sky can get some shout-along action. The solo 2002 tour also seemed to bring this out. Maybe the informal setting (cozy lamp and couch available) or maybe because quite often Paul needed a little help with the lyrics. (It’s ‘stupid hat and gloves’…subways and bums are in the 2nd verse).
Unfortunately, for my purposes, Can’t Hardly Wait was missing from the setlists on that tour. (did I miss one?) But in 2005, along with His Only Friends, CHW was in the set nightly and usually a cause for a joyous sing-along. And I’m not just talking the chorus, the crowd knows it all. And don’t they just sound damn happy to be there?
I may be slightly sappy or sentimental, but I live for moments like these during a show. A connection between people facilitated by music and words. For 4 minutes, everyone in the room is your best friend.
So sing along with the crowd in Kentucky in 2005.