Fistful of Mercy 11/13/10 (Early Show)
Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
The entire process of getting into the first of three sold out shows for Fistful of Mercy at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery could be a post on its own. So instead of wasting three paragraphs allow me to thank Steve, Melina and the World Champion San Francisco Giants for not only a wonderful evening, but easily one of my top three shows of 2010. Fact is that as I write this, I have not fully processed what I experienced inside the historic cemetery’s Masonic Lodge last night. The show was so hauntingly beautiful, perhaps I never will.
Before we discuss the music, it is important to discuss the venue. This was my first trip to the Masonic Lodge, and I hope it is not my last. The old hall is painted blood red and lined with one-sheets from classic Hollywood films. With a small stage below the peaked roof, artists must walk through the crowd to take the stage. With an already eager crowd going nuts as the hanging chandeliers dimmed, the foursomes walk through the hall sent the 200+ individuals in the crowd into overdrive.
Made up of Joseph Arthur, Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison (with Jessy Greene on Violin) the group got the first of two shows on this particular evening underway with “I Don’t Want To Waste Your Time.” With cameras clicking and glasses clinking, the room took on a whole new energy as the collective conscious realized just how lucky we were to see the powerful band in such a delicate venue.
I am a bit embarrassed to admit that it took me a few songs to realize why Fistful of Mercy was performing in this location. As a huge fan of Joseph Arthur, I should have realized that with his lyrical emphasis on spirits Hollywood Forever was a highly appropriate location. In fact Arthur and Harper discussed the “floating” spirits who were amongst us all night. Hell, one could argue that songs like “As I Call You Down” managed to take on new meanings due in part to the shows location.
While set mainly consisted of material from the trio’s debut record, however each individual performed a sample of their solo work. While I do not know the name of the Harrison number, he did dedicate it to a couple somewhere in the crowd who are about to welcome a baby girl into the world. Following a long-winded (a theme for the night) yet hilarious story about days of touring in a van by Harper, Arthur lead to group through a spot-on take of his hit “In The Sun.” However, the highlight of the night was Ben Harper performing an emotionally charged version of “Please Me Like You Want To.” While TMZ can tell you all the latest on Harper’s personal life, watching the man perform this song in this city and this moment in time – words simply can’t express the emotions within that moment. The Harper led Fistful of Mercy original “Restore Me” followed as an exclamation mark to the “Please Me.”
With a heavy musical mood all night, the group loosened things up with “Things Go ‘Round.” The song featured Harrison on piano, Harper on Bass and Arthur on a tiny drum kit. As was prevalent all night, you could see that the band that formed 10 short months ago was having an absolute blast. Other late set highlights included the song “Fistful of Mercy” and “Father’s Son.”
With the band exiting the stage and the lights coming back up, I had assumed the show was over. As soon as the lights went back down, the crowd noise doubled in decibel level as we all realized the band would return. We were treated to a two song encore that kicked off with an emotionally charged cover of the Velvet Underground classic “Pale Blue Eyes.” After one final round of lengthy-yet-hilarious stage banter, the early show ended with “With Whom You Belong.” As proof to how powerful the performance was, the band actually managed to get the entire crowd to join in a sing along at the end of the song. As anyone who has ever attended a concert in Los Angeles is well aware, this is no easy task. It really was the perfect ending to an amazing show. Fingers crossed we see future US dates for Fistful of Mercy, as this is one band you can’t afford to miss out on.