I recently went to a concert the Richards on Richards concert in Vancouver BC, Canada to see Jonathan Richman. I was excited to finally take my parents to a concert with an artist they had never seen live, particularly because I had seen him a couple years before and it was one of the best shows I've been to. I was really appalled by what we ended up witnessing.
Jonathan is always sublime, but his fans in Vancouver are a drunken disrespectful lot. My parents watched slews of girls chugging beer, yelling his name in between songs, and then talking loudly to each other when he started to play. People in the audience who weren't incoherently drunk were shouting out either "ice cream man" or "Vampire Girl", as if he were a performing monkey. As if he'd FORGOTTEN his number one hits. They were relentless. When he came back for an encore, people were screaming his name and all the songs they wanted him to play. He threatened to leave twice, but nobody heard him. He looked out at them very sadly, and began to play his first song.
When he finished, they yelled at him louder still. He tried to talk, but stopped, because nobody was listening. Tommy went and stood by the door, but Jonathan stayed there, holding his guitar, and waiting for people to be quiet. We sat there for three minutes watching his sad face, listening to the yelling and screaming. It didn't die down. He started in on a sad quiet song about sitting at his mother's deathbed and learning from watching her. Everyone was still talking. A group of girls by the side of the stage were trying to get Tommy to talk to them DURING THE SONG. I felt so sick. How can people who love his music and identify with him be such simple minded self absorbed jerks?
In any case, it was a beautiful song. I love hearing his new stuff because it's never disappointing, and it's always catchy and fun on its first listen. The old stuff is fine, and he always plays it differently, making it fun to listen to as well, but if I wanted to hear Pablo Picasso the same way as it is on the CD, I'd have stayed at home.
The highlight of the night? One of the classy girls trying to get with Tommy jumped up on the stage mid concert, and mid song, to leave a message for Jonathan at his feet. After he finished playing, he read the message to himself for a while. He went up to the mic and said, "it seems we have a request." He then sang a song about people wanting love and attention, and how much some people crave it, and how superficial that want can be, etc. The girl turned to her friends and said, "That's weird. All I wrote on it was my number!"