Friday, October 20

Jonathan Richman 16/10/06 Islington, London, The Evening of Our Lives ...

My previous JoJo concert is a fading memory of hilarity and dervish-style dancing. Last night was a comparatively restrained affair (by his standards), but no less enjoyable, as Jonathan gave a generally much more poignant performance. Apart from the obvious attractions of his querky and spontaneous sides, I have always been genuinely moved by the bare emotion of many of his songs. I have to say he was not looking 100% (though when he smiles, the room lights up), and had frequent pauses to pour various combinations of drops and liquids down his neck to try and alleviate the problems with his vocal chords. I think it's getting him down a bit, or maybe there was a touch of some other ailment also, but surprisingly, his voice sounded smoother than I ever remembered, and the guitar playing impressed too (but as a non-musician maybe I am easily impressed). Being trapped in actual pews did not lend itself to dancing and there was no other open space available - I think this was another factor in determining the setlist. The high vaulted ceiling of this octagonal (still functioning) chapel made for a great acoustic space though, and it was full of about 800 to 900 fans had come to share the unique magic of a J.R. performance. It was a mixed bunch - Islington arts centre luvvies, Camden leisure pirates, a good proportion of students, and people like me who had treasured his greatness since the very first UK TOTP appearance. Tommy Lee Jones Larkins was flying by the seat of his pants keeping up with the vagaries of JoJo's mind (and succeeding admirably) by his side throughout on the 'toy' drum kit.

Some songs I remember:-

He Gave Us The Wine To Taste It - very appropriate opener given the surroundings
Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow
Les Etoiles
Springtime in New York
Let Her Go Into the Darkness
Vampire Girl (Does she cook beans? Does she cook rice? Does she do ritual sacrifice?) - I too am intrigued!
Surrender
Celestial
You Must Ask The Heart
Give Paris One More Chance - Hurrah!
G-I-R-L-F-R-E-N - with great spoken intro about the attraction of college girls to an adolescent JoJo
Vincent Van Gogh
Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love
A few Spanish songs too - the funny thing being how JoJo often squeezed in the English translations as he sang.Also, a couple of cowbell jives at various points during songs, drawing whoops with each lunge and high kick move.

Ms Y from a couple of weeks ago: "After the show we asked mr. r. to sign our super-cool posters. we told him that our friend andrew would be seeing him during the england tour, and asked that he keep vincent v. in the set list. he nodded vigourously."Well, Jonathan asked if he had done this one yet, and said he was going to finish with it. I took that as a virtual dedication - about the closest I'm likely to get anyway. So, Thanks! Then as the last couple of notes were being played, he said, 'Wait, there's one more we should do' and played Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love, largely in front of the mic. A nice way to finish. Despite his health problems, he looked glad to be there.

There was extended, and I mean very extended, clapping, stamping, cheering once he had made his exit, but there was no encore. I think he is having to save himself to get through this tour, as well as being known for not really doing encores. He had started early, and finished at 10, but this suited me as I had to get back south-west from north London. The Victoria Line tube was full of love, and that doesn't happen very often.

Just seeing JoJo let the guitar drop to his side, switch on the doe eyes, and make that little hip swivel is one of those moments to store away. Whenever you're having a bad time, remembering that is guaranteed to raise a smile.I have been touched by greatness again, and touched in my heart. Godspeed JoJo!

Andrew

(Posted with Andrews permission - Thanks!)

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