Monday, October 30

Our man in Madrid

Jonathan Richman, Circulo De Bellas Artes, 27 October 2006

In 2000 I gave a copy of ¡Jonathan, Te Vas A Emocionar! to a Spanish friend of mine and her sister. I have to say that they didn’t get very far with this despite being impressed that an English speaker had recorded an album in Spanish. I’m not what they were expecting but it would be fair to say that it wasn’t Jonathan singing dodgy Spanish rhymes about Chewing Gum Wrappers. Anyway, as far as I know the CD has lain untouched since that first listen and my love of Jonathan has become something of a joke. When she moved back home to Madrid a few years ago I promised her that the next time Jonathan played in Madrid that I would take her to see him so I was very happy when the tour dates were released and I saw he was playing there.

Phone calls, text messages and emails were sent and after a lack of enthusiasm my friend eventually ordered the tickets and began to prepare herself for a night of tedium and songs about Chewing Gum Wrappers. I booked my flights and a day off work and on Friday morning boarded a plane at Heathrow off on my way to Madrid.

The Circulo De Bellas Artes is a beautiful building spread over (at least) 5 floors. A web site I found says that it is decked out in 1920s décor. Now, truth be told, I don’t know 1920s décor from a hole in the ground but this is a wonderful building with different events on each floor. The floor on which Jonathan was playing (the fourth) was reached by a huge double staircase made of marble or stone and all the windows had very expensive looking, heavy curtains. The room it’s self had a semi circle of pillars towards the back and the whole place seemed to be decked out in marble.

On the ground floor there was a bar/restaurant but unfortunately we arrived a little late to visit there but there was a bar in the concert room. As I didn’t buy a round in there I can’t say how much a beer cost but the normal price for a half pint beer was around the 1.80 Euro mark. The concert hall was filled with Director style canvass chairs and when I arrived all the best seats had a “Reserved” notice on them and were still empty until the second that Jonathan took to the stage.

Luckily, my Spanish friend had reserved the tickets a few weeks ago as the place was full to overflowing by the time Jonathan appeared slightly after 10pm. Apparently Spanish people are notorious for turning up late to any show but either they made an exception for Jonathan or that view is not entirely correct.

Jonathan had on what looked like a new paisley style shirt and was full of energy and passion from the moment he appeared; luckily it looked like he is over the flu type illness that he suffered from earlier in the tour. I don’t think I have ever seen him in such a boisterous and playful mood. We were treated to a few Spanish songs which I have never heard before along with several of the established Spanish songs. All his talk between songs (and there was plenty of that) was in Spanish (he only speaks in French when he plays in France too which I think is very impressive.) Along with the Spanish songs we were treated to a regular set list of all the favourites. I will post the full set list later.

We got the full version of “Let her go” with the stories told in English, French, Spanish, Hebrew and Italian. During the English version he actually said the “F” word which I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say before. As I recall there were two encores although the first one he didn’t actually leave the stage. A group of people at the front were doing the conga, the rest of us were shouting and screaming for more with Jonathan giving the biggest grin I have ever seen. At the end he signalled to Tommy that they had finished and off they went for the last time leaving the audience going crazy.

A few minutes later the lights came on and several hundred people groaned in disappointment. We had been treated to 90 minutes of some of the best Jonathan I have ever seen and he could have played 10 hours and we would still have been disappointed to see him go. Even my friend was impressed, I’m not sure that she will be asking for the Jonathan back catalogue but that doesn’t matter. The trip was so worth it for all the obvious reasons but especially to see my friends thoughts on Jonathan change so drastically after just ninety minutes.

Roll on the next tour!


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