Live: When We Were Angels — Michale Graves at Zion

michalegraves1ZION — 5/1/08: Try saying this out loud: “Michale Graves, former lead singer of the Misfits, is playing an acoustic show at a church in Conroe.”

Shit, you got my attention.

Of course I had some trepidation about checking this show out, but most of my fears were assuaged by the fact that Graves is a talented motherfucker. I pretty much knew going in that Mike would transcend the incongruity of the whole thing and put on a show worth driving through Thursday night white-flight traffic. Aside from that, proceeds from the show went to benefit the West Memphis 3 Legal Defense Fund, which I very strongly support, so it definitely seemed like a win-win. If nothing else, the wife and I would have some funny stories along the lines of, “remember when that guy played ‘Last Caress?’ in a church?”

Fortunately, the evening turned out to be a special one indeed. After a couple of short warm-up sets from some talented (and very young) area acoustic musicians, Michale took the stage and played for over two hours. His song choices ran the gamut from Graves-era Misfits songs (“Dig Up Her Bones,” “Crying on Saturday Night,” and “The Shining,” among many others), to songs from his post-‘Fits bands Graves and Gotham Road (“Ophelia,” “Blackbird,” and “Seasons of the Witch”), all the way up through his most recent solo stuff, including material from his new album Illusions, which includes songs co-written with Damien Echols of the WM3. Each and every song really stood up to the “acoustic test,” even those that I never thought would work — like “This Island Earth.” Michale played a haunting, protean version of the song on piano, somewhat revealing the process of “Misfit-izing” previously existing compositions; apparently the song started out as a dark reflection on the Holocaust through the eyes of survivors.

michalegraves2Graves also threw in some covers, including Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom” and U2’s “One,” and even though both of those songs have been covered countless times, Michale’s versions really cast them in a new light. It’s probably due to the fact that the man’s got pipes from heaven — he’s seriously one of the most underrated singers in rock, and easily one of the most talented. As a guitarist and songwriter, he’s no slouch, either. The man is pretty damn talented. I don’t want to say “deceptively so,” but he definitely does not get his due. Seeing Graves play a show like this with just himself and a guitar (and occasionally a piano) and having him still totally blow me away (with no face paint whatsoever) pretty much confirms my suspicions about his level of involvement in writing the Misfits material that I love so much.

Plus, he played a song called “Lucifer, I Am” in a church, under a huge cross. Again, I say, “Danzig who?” END

(Photos by Mel House.)

Live review by . Live review posted Friday, August 1st, 2008. Filed under Live Reviews.

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