Thursday, November 11th, 2004
Surrender To Jonathan
I know nothing about Jonathan Richman. Okay, that’s not entirely true – I know he fronted The Modern Lovers, that he is enormously influential and that he was in Something About Mary. And that my brother has an inexplicable hatred for the man. But besides that, nada. So when I was persuaded to go see him on the final night of his three-night stand at the Lula Lounge, I figured, “why not?” It’s not like I go to many shows, it was nice to have a night out.
I’d never been to Lula Lounge before, and now that I’ve been, I can declare it as having possibly the most unforgiving floor for standing in the Greater Toronto Area, save maybe the Opera House. Dear God did that hurt. Otherwise, it’s kind of a weird joint, very much a restaurant with a stage, giving the place a dinner theatre vibe. Considering that it’s way out in the west end of the city (way out relative to my usual turf, anyway) and they rarely book acts I’m interested in, I don’t think I’ll have to get too acquianted with the place in the future.
Opening things up was Jesse DeNatale, who seemed to epitomize Atlantic City – he looked like a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Dean Martin and sounded like he was closing out a late set in an almost-empty casino showroom. These comments are meant to be complimentary, by the way. He played a very brief set, but I liked it.
As for JR, well it was strangely entertaining. The guy has a very particular and peculiar onstage persona, with his facial expressions vascillating between looks of intense joy and intense pain. Song topics ranged from girls, girls and girls, but also classic painters like Van Gogh and Picasso, and how they related to girls. He occasionally did little dances, told sing-songy stories that may or may not have actually been part of the song and frequently fidgeted with his mic setup or the mixer he had in back of the stage. Sometimes he’d just stop and stare out into the audience with this wide-eyed look of amazement that all these people were clapping for him. I actually recognized a few songs, but was enjoying the performance even though it was mostly all new to me. The latter part of the set was done largely in Spanish or Italian, but whether they understood or not, the crowd ate it up. Jonathan Richman fans do love Jonathan Richman. Me, I was more impressed with his drummer Tommy Larkins who had the daunting task of anchoring space cadet Richman and performed with great aplomb. He had a tiny, basic kit but absolutely made the most of it. Impressive.
Overall, I enjoyed the show despite the aching back and knees (damn you, floor!). It’s nice to go see someone entirely new and be impressed. Photos here. Michael from For The Records was at the Monday night show and has a review of that performance.
NOW asks Sufjan Stevens about God and his part in the ‘indie-folk’ movement. The Toronto Star as well (login: firstname.lastname@example.org/stinkypete). I’m seeing Sufjan on Tuesday at Lee’s Palace and I’ve still not heard one note of his music. In fact, if I’m being completely honest, the main reason I’m going is that everyone is telling me I need to and that Stereogum pointed out that Sufjan’s xylophonist is uber-cute. I’m not too proud to admit that.
Billboard has this little piece on the Pixies and how they’re releasing live discs of the show for sale immediately after the show ends through DiscLive. They did this on the Spring tour, so yes, it’s old news, but what I found interesting was that while every other city has their quantities limited to 1000 pieces, they’re making 1500 for each of the two Toronto dates. Do we have some reputation for being more open to buying shiny trinkets and gewgaws? Maybe so. Did anyone get one of the live discs from the Spring and if so, how do they sound?
np – Interpol / Antics