Saturday Evening

Music Midtown 2001 — Saturday Evening

featuring Cheap Trick, Booker T. Jones, Lucinda Williams, The Wallflowers, and The Cult

Atlanta, GA • May 5, 2001

After a brief respite from the heat (hint to locals visiting Music Midtown — get a hotel room within walking distance) it was back to a now extremely crowded festival. Trying to avoid as much humanity as possible, we started off at the Fox 5 stage, which featured a mix of blues and alt-country most of the weekend. First off, resplendent in black leather pants and cowboy hat, was Lucinda Williams, owner of one of music’s finest voices. Her emotive folk/country mixture floated through the trees like a gentle breeze, featuring material from her upcoming album as well as past favorites such as “Right On Time.” A great way to start the evening.

Next we ventured across the site to catch Booker T. Jones, the legendary leader of Booker T. and the MG’s. Looking sharp as a three-dollar bill, he kicked off his set with the Ray Charles classic “What I Say”, and his keyboard playing and singing were as strong as ever. After relishing the Memphis soul sound, it was down the hill for another of the weekend’s “must sees,” Cheap Trick.

Cheap Trick has just celebrated their silver anniversary, and they might be growing older, but certainly not up. Rick Nielsen is as goofy as ever, Robin Zander as iron-lunged and pretty as he was on their debut album all those years ago. Opening with “Ain’t That a Shame,” it was one classic pop number after another, from “Surrender” to “I Want You to Want Me” and a dozen more. Thankfully the group has chosen to forget the period of their career that birthed such drek as “The Flame,” and instead they stuck to the hits, including the song from That 70’s Show. By the time they closed with “Goodnight Kiddies,” the crowd was hoarse from shouting along, Rick had littered the first few rows with hundreds of picks, and a good time was had by all.

Interesting notes along the way. As we made our way across a bridge, I recognized The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Gazing across probably 75,000 people, I spied Jakob Dylan on a huge video screen a quarter of a mile away. Since that is about as close as I would ever want to get to The Wallflowers, we stood and watched them end their set with, I must admit, a rather faithful rendition of the song. Now, if they had perhaps followed it up with “Like a Rolling Stone,” that would have been something.

We also caught some of The Cult, newly reformed and gathering great reviews. Ian Astbury looked as if he got dressed in a Tokyo new wave boutique, and guitarist Billy Duffy looked lean and mean. I’ve never really warmed to their sound, but the crowd certainly did, and in a throwback to years gone by, I saw dozens of lighters held aloft, which is how we in the south say “good job, bubba.”

Tomorrow: Women Rule Midtown•

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