I took a roadtrip across North Carolina to see Jonathan Richman play in Asheville and Chapel Hill.
Here's how the shows went.
Feb 24, 2011 Asheville, North Carolina at the "Grey Eagle"
Me and a friend got to this show real early, and I saw Jonathan setting up his stage setup.
After a while he walked over and we got a chance to chat a little. He was real nice and I asked
him about the song "Circle I". He said that the "I" part was some reference to how reggae artists always use that word in their songs.
I told him that I loved his new album(o moon) and he said that he and Tommy were always trying to reach a certain sound and he was happy with how the album turned out (seeming to indicate that with each passing album he is getting more and more satisified with the sound atmosphere).
The show itself was pure magic. It was more loose than other shows of his that I had attended with most songs having long drawn out intrumental sections or spoken word parts that Jonathan carefully ad-libbed.
The highlight for me was "Bohemia", a new song that was an 11 minute epic full of emotional twists and turns. At one point he said something like he was so pretentious during his Harvard Square days that he "even talked back to the Velvet Underground"!
During the song "Celestial" things got real delicate and soft and he used his sleigh bells to almost "bless" us with it's power! Every time I see him he has a new trick up his sleeve with his sleighbells and they are far more than any standard prop.
At the end of the show he said that he didn't want to leave us without a word about one of his favorite musicians and then ripped into a great version of Keith Richards that had such an unexpected false ending that Tommy had to go back to his drumkit to finish the song!
As the audience clapped for what (they thought) would be the last moments of the show he started directing "magic" at us again with his sleighbells and it almost sent a chill in the air! He then finished with an unaccompanied version of "Arrividerci Roma".
1. No One Was Like Vermeer
3. He Gave Us the Wine To Taste
4. El Joven se Estremece
5. Here It Is
6. Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild
7. Springtime in New York
8. My Affected Accent
10. O Moon, Queen of Night On Earth
11. We'll Be the Noise, We'll Be the Scandal
12. Let Her Go Into the Darkness
13. Sa Voix M'Attise
14. Take Me To the Plaza
15. Her Love Is From Somewhere Else
16. Keith Richards
17. Her Mystery/I Was the One She Came For
18. Arrividerci Roma
Feb 25, 2011 Chapel Hill, North Carolina at the "Local 506"
This show was also great! A little more uppity than the previous show, but having mabey even more "sentimental" moments such as the opening dialogue for When we refuse to suffer" where he says that we were meant to "screw up" and if we didn't we would still be up there (points to the heavens).
When the show was about to start you could hear some clapping in the very back of the audience and then expand to the middle of the audience and finally to the front as Jonathan and Tommy waded their way to the stage.
Before Jonathan got to the stage a nice woman handed him a Valentine and he stopped for a moment to read it.
Jonathan instructed Tommy to start a beat while he got prepared to play. He then instantly started a short rendition of "Affection" which really started off a great feel for the night.
During one of the new songs "Her Love Is From Somewhere Else" he got the entire crowd to sing with him in a sortof call-and-response way. It was a great moment.
Another special moment was a point where the crowd was clapping along but starting to quiet down. When Tommy started into a drum solo Jonathan jumped down to the floor next to the audience and clapped along with us... needless to say it energized the entire venue's clapping!
When the show ended he put on his coat and put his guitar in his case and escaped via the back-door behind him. Me and my friends later saw him wandering around on the street near the venue and he told my friend that he really loses himself on stage and sometimes doesn't know how long he's been playing for.
It was sortof like he was looking for a plaza where "people stay up till 3am" and talk. His version
of "Take Me To the Plaza" was a real treat, and he prefaced a lot of lines as if he was talking to a
taxi driver, asking him to take him where the people are. He made it clear that he didn't want to use a map or a GPS system...he wanted to be told where to go like it was "1970 or somthin'"!
Just a great show, and it left me kindof speechless at how intimate it was.
1. drum intro
3. If You Want To Leave Our Party Just Go
4. Her Love Is From Somewhere Else
5. Egyptian Reggae
6. No One Was Like Vermeer
7. Let Her Go Into the Darkness
8. I Was the One She Came For
9. Dancing In the Moonlight
10. A Que Venimos Sino A Caer
11. My Baby Love Love Loves Me
12. When We Refuse To Suffer
14. I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar
15. Sa Voix M'Attise
16. It Was Time For Me To Be With Her
17. Take Me To the Plaza
18. O Moon Queen of Night On Earth
19. These Bodies That Came to Cavort
20. Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild
Saturday, February 26
Two reviews for the price of one!
Starting off with Roy Kasten's poetic musing on Jonathan's set:
"There I was in Harvard Square," began Jonathan Richman at Off Broadway last night. There we were as well, a respectable crowd, paying our respects to one of the oddest, strangely charismatic performers in don't-call-it-rock-&-roll, bopping down the bizzaro, bohemian sidewalks with him.
Which you can read the rest of here, at Riverfront Times
And then slipping into Scott Allen's lengthier piece, which also includes in it a link to the video of Jonathan's 1978 interview:
Turning to his longtime drummer Tommy Larkins a few songs into the set, Richman had his own take on last night’s performance remarking, “Last night everything was real fast, tonight everything is kinda slow. What are you gonna do?” That statement set the tone for the evening as the intimate surroundings and exceptional sound of Off Broadway offered some great moments during the show.
You can read the rest of that here, at KDHX.
Photo is from Piera Peruvian
Posted by chimaerandi at 2/26/2011