A Cavanagh Farewell Performance

Sunday May 29th 2005, 8pm at the Pisces Café, Babylon
by M. E. Anders, Aural Fix Magazine July 2005

FAREWELL LONG ISLAND SHOW – marathon performance in the style of the early shows, bringing back the electric guitar, synthesizer, bass drum, other surprises and guests.

An art enthusiast tries to find something eternal in that snapshot of time captured in the medium of their delight. Whether staring deeply into vague images of Monet, floating hypnotically on zephyrs of Mozart, or fighting mythical battles of Homer, the enthusiast is able to, if only for a short time, slip the fetters of cruel reality and run naked in that terrifying savage and exhilarating realm of the imagination.

Recently the patrons of Pisces Café were lucky enough to experience one of those transcendental performances from the mercurial talent Neil Cavanagh. Dubbed “The Suitcase in Hand” performance portending his eminent departure for California, Cavanagh sang played and entertained like it was his last day on Earth and not just his penultimate performance in New York.

With a seemingly hand picked audience of family, friends, and adoring fans, the tiny café played host to a two way love fest until the wee hours of the next morning. The overwhelming consensus: a Neil Cavanagh performance of any length (he played over five hours with nary a break) was way too short.

The set list was virtually irrelevant as Cavanagh tore and twisted even well known standards like “Will the Circle Be Broken” into soulful meandering Cavanagh-esque creations that would be hard to describe as anything but original. In between actual originals like a stirring version of his mesmerizing signature “Forgiveness” and a wistful rendition of “Our Day Will Come”, the set was peppered with comic samplings of Yes and Zeppelin (to lampoon falsetto and that Plant moan yell respectively.)

The evening was loose and fun and Neil kept the crowd in his vice-like grip even when his understated vocals weren’t the only voice heard in the room. One instance was when Neil shredded his guitar as Mark Loebl barked out “Forty Thousand Headmen” in a spontaneous collaboration that can only happen in such intimate confines as Pisces (Mark in his front row seat was as close to the mic as Neil on stage.)

Neil ended his marathon gig with an inspired and beautifully poetic take on “Can’t Find My Way Home.” From the fans who donned superman “S”s in homage to Cavanagh’s heroic center-stage get up to the pedestrian patrons whose serendipitous craving for a Pisces espresso shake made them privy to a performance non-par, everyone quietly prayed to the music gods that Neil find a peaceful wonderful place to reside in California but he should always find his way home to New York and such incredible shows.

Neil Cavanagh, if you ever need directions just ask. We’ll light the beacon. And please, superman, don’t ever embarrass yourself by wearing “NC” on your chest while you practice your guitar.