Highlight of the show (for me) had to be "Rose Parade" as rendered by a gent I was assured was John Doe formerly of the venerable X (looking rather like the Stetson man, but rgdless). Rilo Kiley were terrific and customarily heartfelt. Beck was a better guitarist than I'd realized. Well, I'll leave it to the experts to dissect; but I had such a terrific time and got to stand right by the stage (I having been fourth in line at the Henry Fonda). Thanks L.A. Another wonderful evening. I hope all else who made it also had a terrific time.
-Paul Auberjonois Brazil
Is it just me or did RK play a brand new song of theirs for the 4th song?
Jenny and Blake were pretty choked up, but endearing as usual.
Pleasant surprise of the evening was seeing Matt Ward play a few songs.
I picked up a really nice-looking, high-quality poster (20 bucks, but worth it).
Sorry guys, I wasn't able to score a camera or sound recording stuff, but fortunately this show was recorded for an upcoming album release.
RK played two Elliot songs, and unfortunately I couldn't tell you which ones because I weren't familiar with those ones. The first one was Jenny just singing alone, with no music.
They also played Hail to Whatever you Found....
I also forgot to mention, the other highlight of the show was a 10-piece band doing a ska rendition of Waltz #2. They rocked the house!
I'll attempt a review, though, I'm still not fully awake.
I don't know who the gentleman was that followed Alaska but he told us of how he and friends had spent the night with Elliott before taking his life. It was apparent he was still emotionally distraught and one couldn't help but feel his sorrow. He related to us that the song he was about to sing had been written by Elliott who had come to him in a dream the previous night. It had no title, was raw and quite emotional...he could barely finish the song. He apologized, tried catching his breath, but it was clear that singing it was overwhelming. The audience was gracious and applauded loudly, encouraging him along. But, you knew we all had giant lumps in our throats.
Everyone said a few words about Elliott, sharing a story or just letting him know that he would be missed. We were there to celebrate his life and the artists were truly sincere in their appreciation of him, his humanity and his work.
The performances were excellent! I wish I could tell you which Elliott songs were sang (maybe someone else who was there can help with that), but I'm notorious for forgetting song titles. Some did sing their own songs which they felt best expressed Elliott's life. My favourite performance, though, was Papa M -- having Elliott's songs being sung with cello and violin was haunting and quite moving.
The night ended with a short film entitled "Strange Parallels" -- a rather tongue-in-cheek but true view of Elliott and the way he lived his life. I walked away feeling somber, tired, yet glad I had spent the night with those who appreciated a wonderfully talented artist."
Beck, Beth Orton, John Doe Salute Elliott Smith At Benefit
Beck, Beth Orton, Lou Barlow and others performed at the Music Box at the Fonda Theater, although it was Smith's tender melodies and anguished lyrics that took center stage.
"For us, Elliott is one of the great pillars to the kind of music we try to contribute to," Rilo Kiley singer/guitarist Blake Sennet said backstage. "And for a moment we felt like one of the pillars had fallen, but later you realize the pillar is his music, and that's what he left behind. Ultimately, he tried to make his misery into a positive thing."
Most of the artists who took part in Monday's concert played only Smith songs, although some performers tossed in a song or two that they knew Smith liked or that they felt were appropriate. Some were stripped down to nothing but a voice. Others were dolled up with as many as eight musicians. And while the Smith songs spanned from his first solo album to his last, and even included music from his early band Heatmiser, all of them had a similar, somber tone.
"This is really a memorial for his fans, but also for his friends," Beck said backstage. "He had a lot of friends in L.A. and in these parts, and this is our chance to say goodbye and thanks".
Beck ended his solo set with exactly those words, after strumming through "Ballad of Big Nothing," "Clementine" and "Alameda" — the first and last from 1997's Either/Or and the second from 1995's Elliott Smith, the album that turned Beck on to Smith.
"The good thing about his songs is they're so well made, they're so crafted and meticulous, they can weather even the most feeble rendition," Beck said. "I've been working on them pretty hard the last two days."
Beck's set was flawless in delivery, but others found Smith's songs more challenging. Some admitted to giving up on learning more songs, while others stopped halfway through versions, noting that it was an Elliott trademark.
"His music is so incredible on so many levels, a lot of the musicians playing here tonight have commented on how difficult it is to learn it," said Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis, who stunned the capacity crowd with an a cappella rendition of "I Didn't Understand" from 1998's XO. "He was such an amazing guitar player and incredible lyricist and beautiful voice. For this generation of songwriters, he was incredibly important and timeless."
Rilo Kiley also played "The Biggest Lie," with Lewis releasing her pain by stomping her foot to the beat, and two of their own songs, which they said Elliott heavily inspired.
Orton, who performed just before a screening of the experimental documentary "Strange Parallel" ended the night, played "No Name #3" from 1994's Roman Candle as well as one of her own songs, "What We Begin."
"I wrote this song about one of my best friends growing up who hanged himself last year," Orton said, her voice trembling as she sang the opening line, "You're never comin' back, and we can't change that."
Orton told the audience she did not know Smith well but wanted to perform because it was a benefit for the Elliott Smith Memorial Fund, which will support groups for abused children.
"If any good can come out of this, it's that perhaps he wasn't lucky enough to overcome what he suffered, but through his organization, he can help other people to overcome what they suffer," she said of Smith, who was abused. Orton paused, then added, "This is such a headf---."
Barlow, the Folk Implosion singer who toured with Smith when Barlow was in Sebadoh in the mid-'90s, also played a song he wrote for a friend who had passed. "I know you've given all you can give to me," he sang. "I know there'll come a day I'll understand/ Until then I'll be trying to solve your mystery/ Wonder why I couldn't make you stay."
Barlow also played Smith's "Division Day," with the help of a crowd member who yelled out a line the singer forgot. "Elliott would stop [shows] like that," Barlow said. "I loved it when that happened. It showed humanity, and that was something Elliott brought to his music, and we all loved him for that."
Monday's show opened with Los Angeles buzz band the 88, who performed spot-on versions of "King's Crossing," "Can't Make a Sound" and "Stupidity Tries," the latter two from 2000's Figure 8, Smith's final album.
Other highlights included Papa M's "Half Right" (the hidden track on Heatmiser's Mic City Sons), Radar Brothers' "Between the Bars" from Either/Or and Future Pigeon's almost reggae version of "Waltz #2 (XO)."
John Doe performed "Rose Parade" from Either/Or as well as a new song and a favorite X song of Smith's. "Elliott influenced a lot of people," the X singer/bassist said. "He appealed to the underdog in everybody. So everybody related to him on a pretty deep level. It's like, 'Yeah, I'm that underdog, he's talking for me.' And he talked the talk and walked the walk."
The sold-out show, which also featured Alaska! and Tito Larriva, was recorded for a live album that will also benefit the Elliott Smith Memorial Fund.
For more on Smith and his music, check out the feature "One Of Us Is On The Moon."
it's late, i'm tired and i need sleep but i'll try and recall a little bit about the show. this may be subject to wrong information though, sorry.
First and foremost...you guys will be happy to know that it was recorded for a special tribute CD. I also heard it was video taped.
The highlights for me were Rilo Kiley, Beck, Beth and Lou Barlow.
I missed a few hours of it and arrived at 8:30 just as Lou Barlow started. Apparently I missed a eulogy-type thing from Elliott's sister that was really good.
I had mixed feelings about the show all night. Some of the covers were well done and others were just ok. It doesn't seem to mean that much when you have to read the words and still end up messing the song up. But I know it was with good intention.
I was expecting more stories about Elliott or more people talking about him but that only happened on a few occassions. Maybe it happened before I got there.
Lou Barlow played "Division Day" and one of his songs. "Day" sounded somber but it was well done. His guitar playing was a bit off though. It wasn't as high pitched as Elliott. He did talk about him though and his "humanity."
John Doe of X fame played. He covered "Rose Parade." And played two or three of his own songs. His last song might have been a cover though. Didn't talk much. Kinda strange...reminded me of Alice in Chains and I don't really know why.
Earlimart (I think?) covered "Not half right" and it was done beautifully with slide guitar, cello, violin and dual male/female vocals. Then they played one of their own songs. They might have done a second E.S. song. I'm tired and I wasn't taking notes.
Radar Bros- Played "Speed Trials." I thought the singer was very emotionless. It was just dull. He was reading lyrics off of sheet and still managed to get them wrong. They were joined by "Steve" for "Say Yes." I don't have anything to say about that so I better be quiet.
Beth Orton was joined with a great guitarist while she sang. Played No Name #3 and made mention of Johnny Cash's passing, saying that Elliott was probably in better company with Cash and Gram Parsons than he was down here. Talked about how she didn't really know Elliott but met him 4 times. Said she was playing for the cause and maybe Elliott couldn't get over his past but we could prevent child abuse from happening to more kids. Something to that effect. Played two other songs. One might have been a Cash cover. The other was a song she wrote after her childhood best friend hung himself.
BECK showed off his guitar skills and played "Ballad of Big Nothing," "Alameda," and "Clementine." He said a few words about Elliott and he was proud to be there and appreciated everyone coming out.
Jenny from Rilo Kiley came out and sang "I Didn't Understand" by herself. She asked for help from the audience because she was understandably nervous. No body really sang along because she sounded amazing. She was joined by the rest of the band for "The Biggest Lie," that had both Jenny and their guitarist singing. They played two of their own songs as well.
Margaret Cho was in attendance as was Rick Rubin. Concert posters were on sale for $20, and had the name of each band on a poster that said "Elliott Smith memorial concert."
The show ended with a screening of Strange Parallel.
Although the performances were good, even Beck's playing couldn't make up for the absence of Elliott's voice. When other's sang his songs it wasn't the same. His songs can not be sung by anyone else properly because they do not have the same emotion, softness and sincerity that Elliott had. This show defintely made me thankful for Elliott and reiterating that he can never be replaced.
I got in after Elliott's sister spoke and during The 88's first song (King's Crossing.) They played Can't Make A Sound and Stupidity Tries. All pretty damn good versions imho.
Next was Alaska (I'm guessing). It was a trio, guy with long hair on guitar, guy with short hair on bass and girl on drums. They played Speed Trials and then apologized that they couldn't learn any more of Elliott's songs in such a short time. They then played two of their own.
Next a guy who was Elliott's friend played a song that he said came to him in a dream last night from Elliott. It sounded really good, but the guy was so broken up he could barely get through it.
Then I believe Future Pigeon came out and played a reggae version of Waltz #1. They then switched into Whiskey Biscuit and played Pretty (Ugly Before) and one of their own.
Then Lou Barlow played Division Day and one of his own.
Then Papa M played Heatmiser's Not Half Right (Earlimart did not play I don't think) with a cello, violin, guitar, and pedal steel. They then played one of their own songs.
Then John Doe played two of his own songs acoustic, then a pretty good version of Rose Parade, then another of his own or possibly a cover as he was joined by a harmonica player.
Then the Radar Bros. played Between the Bars, Speed Trials, and were joined by Steve (Hanft?) for Say Yes. Steve had trouble getting through the song.
Jenny from Rilo Kiley sang I Didn't Understand a capella. Then she and Blake (who did an incredible job on guitar) played The Biggest Lie with the other guitarist backing them up. Then they played one of the songs (Sunshine that surrounds you) from Execution of all things and a new song I think.
Then Beck played pretty damn well as stated above and then Beth Orton closed the show.
Then Strange Parallel.
I might be forgetting, but I think that was how it went.