Sunday, June 10, 2007

Two great tastes

At last, I've secured a ticket for the event of the summer: Patti LuPone's Gypsy. And the show falls the day after another much-awaited gig, that of Norwegian black-metal legend Immortal. A better one-two punch I could not have dreamed of. (I don't think I need directionals for the photos, though I did choose one of the young Patti.)

For years, fans of both Gypsy and LuPone—and the singer herself, for that matter—have known she was born to play Mama Rose. Let's not get into details of interest mostly to show-tune freaks, and simply say that a long-running feud among some of the personalities involved led us to think the project would never happen. We got an inkling that things may be about to change when LuPone did a concert version at Ravinia last year, but there's still no way to describe the tremors that sent Chelsea seismographs into a seizure when it was announced that not only would LuPone perform Mama Rose at City Center for three weeks in July, but that the production would be directed by the book's author, the notoriously persnickety Arthur Laurents. So that's I'm-so-there show number one.

Show number two is the reunion of Immortal, which embodies classic, corpepainted Norwegian black metal. Never mind that it managed three entries (including a solo shot by guitarist-vocalist Abbath) in the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Black Metal Pics of All Time: The trio has released one of my favorite BM albums, the surprisingly catchy Sons of Northern Darkness. The band last played New York (at Wetlands!) back in 2002, when that album came out, then split. Fortunately it is now understood by everybody that splits are not permanent, so Immortal is back and playing NYC on July 13 at, of course, BB King's.

Now, my love for show tunes and black metal may seem strange at first, but think about it: Both genres celebrate alternate universes in which heightened emotions rule, and where theatricality is so integrated into the discourse as to become absolutely normal. It's indie rock, that paramount of individual expression (ha!) that turns into a stylistic straitjacket when compared to these two genres, ruled as it is by stultifying normalizing parameters that enforce prevailing social codes instead of undermining them, as common wisdom would have it (rock is supposed to be rebellious, right?).

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