X at the Paradise

MAY 20 -- “We meet again,” said Exene Cervenka, greeting the crowd as X took the stage at the sold-out Paradise Tuesday night. She apologized for a “technical difficulties” before the band started John Doe and couple of roadies were fussing with his bass amp. Exene waited patiently by the mike. “I time my pot-smoking. Now it’s all off.”

And then 28 indelible songs two encore sets deep, including covers of “Breathless” and, of course, a “Soul Kitchen” finale. Why go see X play the same stuff they’ve been playing for 20 years-plus? Because: is anyone else playing it? Is that what you’ll be saying when Beethoven plays the Regattabar again? “He’s been playing that ‘Appassionata’ since 1806 and, dude the fucker’s deaf!” Steve Lacy said he began playing Monk’s music because he liked it and no one else was playing it at the time.

So let’s hear it for X “White Girl,” “Los Angeles,” “We’re Desperate,” “Adult Books,” “It’s Who You Know,” “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline,” “The Marrying Kind,” “Your Phone’s Off the Hook” (“but you’re not”), “Sugarlight,” “See How We Are,” and on and on. And they didn’t even get to “Riding with Mary.” John and Exene’s voices splitting off into separate shards, coming back together in, yes, desperate close-harmony. Is anyone else doing anything like this? “Some people give me the creeps!” Exene could have quit after “The world’s a mess it’s in my kiss.” That’s probably enough poetry for any one lifetime. Anyway, there they were again. “We’ll definitely come back next year,” Exene said after “Soul Kitchen.” So will we.

-- Jon Garelick

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