Two hours down the road in our sister city of Mobile, Alabama, Tom Waits stomped into his first number, “Lucinda.” Dust curled from the circular wood stage as he galumphed and hushed the audience with that familiar, surly bellow. Given his affinity for the sound and majestic comedy of old time circus haunts, he arrived on stage in his usual black coat and hat, backed by colorful lights and full band, just as a conductor or magician might. His jolted, thumping movements added to the suspense of the show.
Waits did not disappoint. Grinding from stage to piano, he wooed the crowd with anecdotes, jokes, ballads, and riots. In an unforgettable moment, Waits replaced his black pork pie hat with a glitter encrusted one as the lights dimmed and one spotlight lit his head. Waits, the human disco ball, twirled in circles around his rustic platform. The final number, “Make It Rain,” surged through the audience, bringing a strange passion to the crowd, an eerie unified need for cleansing from something. And they got it when a large gush of glitter poured down over Waits’ and his stage, his band, and even his young sons, who played in certain numbers that night.