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David Cassidy LIVE at Incahoots

Earth City, Missouri
May 3, 2001

by Mary Ladd

Coolia and I met up in a country bar smack in the middle of a dangerous Industrial Park in St. Louis, Missouri, (dangerous for bad temp assignments, that is,) for the David Cassidy concert, May 3, 2001.

"Perspective is a fun-house mirror. It distorts and discolors everything we see, learn and experience. Perspective warps our perception and makes it difficult to view things accurately or conceive of them in new ways. It is the Achilles’ Heel of the mind."

-- Dee W. Houck of Visa International
(as yanked right outa Fast Company Magazine)

Anybody who has ever seen David Cassidy lately is surely aware that he is facing a pretty alarming comeback hurdle. The root of the problem, I believe, may be in how Mr. Cassidy perceives himself, his place in the rock pantheon and his ability to take his idol-hood a bit too seriously, its perks and snags alike, therefore forcing him to distance himself from his own phenomenon; which puts your run-o-the-mill David Cassidy fan in a tough spot. Then and now, simple victims of that ole Teen Idol Syndrome, powerless in its clutches, idol fans must suffer comebacks after mini-comebacks until their idol meets his pin-up maker in the sky. It's unfortunate for everybody.

Thanks to the good people of Harrah’s Casino who may have indentured the once washed-up but remarkably well-preserved teen God, a local country bar became the latest venue for David Cassidy LIVE. Harrah's is a new entity on the Missouri Riverfront of floating and semi-floating casinos and because they have no showroom, they have to hold their lounge shows at this nearby country bar. A mini-throng of 40-somethings were on-hand to greet their deity, rushing the stage with aged, deep-throated squeals and their worn copies of David Cassidy records.

The back cover of the Rock Me Baby lp. Note the fan body language -
it takes you back, doesn't it?

Coolia and I arrived twenty minutes early, time enough to check-out the venue in its full glory - in its full, Midwestern, converted Sam’s Wholesale Club glory. Depressing enough to piss-off a once troubled teen idol. Imagine a place where you can buy and wear western gear not to rope cows or mend fences, but for fun! Throw in a few snack bars, pool tables, TVs playing local Blues hockey and a mechanical bull for good measure and you have all you need to imagine this oversized country carnival.

I hate to be all Gentlewoman of Leisure here, but I did notice an alarming abundance of bad 80s haircuts in St. Louis, just as when I left the area six years ago: perms, perms and more perms, mullets, mullet perms. Outfits straight off of the back of Christie Brinkley circa 1985. This struck me as strange considering the 70s are back in town. I mean, wouldn’t you expect to see a lost 80s wardrobe at a heavy-metal concert or hair-band retrospective. Consequently, wouldn’t you expect to see 70s outfits at a David Cassidy show? If the fans had merely become fashion-stuck in time, they’d be back in style again by default! I guess you can’t "accident" into fashion that way. It's wily, that fashion is.

About 15 rows of empty seats stood between us and potential Cassidy-swooning. Rows of white empty plastic fold-up chairs for high Harrah's rollers, a gap wide enough for a line dance separated us from the stage. We were dispirited. We were so far away. When it was evident the high rollers had high rolling to do elsewhere, the choice plastic fold-up seats were made available to the Cassidy-loving multitudes and as multitudes will do, we rushed the stage. The squeals from women old enough to be our older-sisters were really disconcerting, women throwing their purses over seats, staking out territory like crazed N’Sync fans. Adults these days!

Soon, the David Cassidy Overture began…more suited to Jack Cassidy, but hey, who am I to judge? David came out upbeat, starting with "I Can Feel Your Heartbeat", the Partridge Family rocker from their debut album, The Partridge Family Album.

Please note that I was a David Cassidy fan for 15 minutes back in 1977, due solely to this particular album. One of my two older brothers owned it (I can’t remember which one and now I doubt either would cop to it). I didn’t watch the show. I didn’t even know there was a show. I missed all the Cassidy hoopla. Hey, I was seven and out of the loop. And these Partridge Family Album songs, for me, are quintessential Partridge Family, give or take a fake partridge. On the first track, "Brand New Me", David sings "You’re gonna see/a brand new me" with such authority, I was hooked. I was so-so about I Think I Love You. I actually liked "Somebody Wants to Love You" better. "Singing My Song" is a great song, full of pride (I still dig it), but "Point Me In The Direction of Albuquerque" was my anthem at age seven. Having just moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, I missed my friends. I played the song over and over, hoping to torture my parents into getting us back to where we once belonged. I think the song is actually about a tripping runaway not homesickness, go figure.

"I Can Feel Your Heartbeat" was another favorite, sexy to even a seven year old:

"We’ll paint the night/let it shine in the light of our love/
I’ll treat you like a woman/Love you like a woman/
Lord, I’ll prove it/Baby I’m a man of my word."

I can see now how David Cassidy ruined me. Set up my seven-year-old expectations and then subliminally conditioned me to buy albums based on marketed sex appeal. It’s a curse and a burden and I rue the day I ever stole this album from my unidentified brother.

Twenty-four years later, David launched into his other Partridge hits: "Some Kind of Summer", "I’ll Meet You Halfway" ("That’s better than no way"…but is it better, David? Is it?); "I Woke Up in Love This Morning"; "C’mon Get Happy"; "I Think I Love You". Partridge Family songs exploit Cassidy's appeal to do exactly what they’re calculated to do. I mean, how many "I Love You’s" can you get on one record?

He started sweating early. Clearly, he works hard for the money, giving the girls what they want: the pelvic thrusts, the devilish smiles, the whole kit and caboodle. Neil Diamond’s act, when you come right down to it. In fact, David Cassidy borrowed very heavily from Neil’s moves and wardrobe, as our pictures substantiate.

David Cassidy as Neil Diamond

With one exception: tight butt hugging pants. We’d heard so many stories about his Tom Jones, you see, and were really on the lookout for a good Tommy Lee.

I'm not man-meat, dammit!

David sang solo songs as well: "No Bridge I Wouldn’t Cross"; "Echo Valley 2-6809";"I Am a Clown". We were told a very serious story about how he resisted the message in this song for a long time, but came to see that the words describe him to a T.; "Lying To Myself"; "Cherish"; "Rock Me Baby".

He also sang a few covers from his At the Copa show in Vegas: Otis Redding’s "Try a Little Tenderness", (David indeed tried hard; "He’s no Otis," Coolia said. But then who is, Coolia? Who is?); Ike and Tina Turner’s "River Deep Mountain High"; and "Mack the Knife", thereby confirming a penchant for the lounge singing that his future is careening toward.

Which leads us to the essential David Cassidy problem. Why is it so tempting to make fun of him? He never wanted to be a teen idol. If you haven’t heard him tell you this a thousand times, he wanted to be a serious rocker, like Jimi Hendrix. The epoch of Partridge was just a way to get started, to pay the rent. He didn't know this would bring about the selling of his musical soul, step-mother in tow. That's fine. So get over it. By all accounts, you'd think he has.

But unfortunately this doesn't seem to be the case. Now, I don’t know David Cassidy, but I’ve seen his Behind The Music and the infamous interview on the Daily Show with Beth Littleford (do a search {Ctrl+F} for David Cassidy when you get there). David Cassidy, the adult version, strikes me as someone who could throw a temper tantrum real good and clean, like a shock put. He's like that kid on the playground who can't take a joke and is therefore the butt of all of them. Not happy with the sound level at Incahoots, David Cassidy kept complaining about it, giving stern looks to the loitering stage hands. Ominous looks backstage and then turning back to smile at the fans, as if to say, "No, my children, it’s not you." It brought the room down.

Later in the show, he was disparaging to an annoying fan who was talking at him during a slow number. It wasn't what he said but the tone in his voice (a sarcastic "Honey, I’d love to give you my full attention but I have a show to do"). Artiste or egotistical asshole, you decide. But sigh, what a cute egotistical asshole who may or may not have, according to reports, a big schlong. (It's just a joke! Chill!) I guess David never liked being huge. And he was huge. Teenybobber huge (he was bigger than Burt Reynolds in Burt's prime Cosmo bare-butt posing period...if you don't believe me, read Burt's own work in Ape Culture's review of Hot Line: The Letters I Get...And Write! By Burt Reynolds).

So if David Cassidy is forced to do this act, this Partridge family material that he once hated, his attitude can't be suppressed. But a lifetime of trying to escape hasn't worked out very well. Face it, the Partridge Family isn't what's keeping respect at bay for David Cassidy. It's David Cassidy pride, his negative perspective. Maybe some kind of 12-step comedy counseling would help.

Despite his obvious self-defensive machinations and arrogance in the face of the all earthy evidence, his simultaneous love and distaste of his fans' hysteria, his fear of people laughing at him will cause him to be mocked without end in sight.

Comebacks require an certain amount of insight, an unlearning of the past (dropping the past like a Led Zepplin boxed vinyl set), a smirk and lark...see Cher or Tina Turner (especially Cher with embarrassing 70s hits of her own to overcome). How wise a person can be once he can see the joke that is himself. Be the first on your block to make it. Save yourself and grow up.

David has the comeback goods: a voice (a sexy voice), crazy obsessed fans who are still clinging to the memory of Keith Partridge's hair (you can’t deny the hair, although David tried to, saying "mama's don't let your babies grow up to have haircuts"); and he’s willing to sweat. All that's missing: a healthier perspective of himself.

Now I only say this because I care. Although only a little over an hour long, his show was good. He has the raw material, as it were. And who can stay mad at David Cassidy for long? Prodigal teen idol, come home. Let go of the treacherous providence of your celebrity. It 'aint all bad.

David wrestling with his misspent youth as mirrored in a Jurassic rock t-shirt.
No those aren't Partridges in the background, those are Vegas-ridges.

Official David Cassidy Site

Cassidy Land

Read more of Ape Culture's concert reviews

Post a comment about David Cassidy or teen idol syndrome.


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