Why do I keep coming back to Pere Ubu's "Breath?" Oh I know, because it's a stellar song performed live for a puzzling, exciting, one-of-a-kind video. Filmed around 1989 for David Sanborn's (seriously) Michelob Presents: Night Music (check out the wiki), Pere Ubu lay waste to the Night Music stage. It's hard to imagine another performance that night, or any other night, coming close. Singer David Thomas's raspy voice greets us after a brief alien introduction, and by the time he sings "down by the sea," he's begun improvising and chirping and hiccuping between lines. His moves are fantastic. I see them in singers like Craig Finn. With hand gestures and verbal pleading, he gets the guitarist to bring it. The guitarist, cool as a cucumber the whole time, is superb. The bassist, wearing the Uncle Jesse haircut that was so popular at the time, sings backups, and allows Thomas to stretch out on "baby, standing at the edge of sorrow" with a harmony that is totally bizarre, but at the same time, right. Pay close attention to the keyboardist. Who even knows what's up with him. If you like to quote lyrics on your AIM profile, let that special someone know how you feel without actually sticking your neck out, take a peak here. One liners galore.
Now I ask you to let your mind wander to the live airing in 1989. Imagine what it would be like to see "Breath" on your television. There's no youtube and little access to home recording, so you cherish these four minutes, not sure if you'll ever see them again.
This blogger knows what's up.