Warm Steel
(2007.08.04 / 02:39:56 /FIELD OF HEAVEN)

Hot Shots
(2007.08.04 / 02:09:28 /POW)

On the Ropes
(2007.08.04 / 01:22:11 /POW)

Off the top of my head
(2007.08.04 / 00:13:47 /OTHER)

Feel Childish
(2007.08.04 / 00:00:00 /OTHER)

Mile-High Club
(2007.08.03 / 23:46:02 /WHITE STAGE)

The Chemical Brothers
(2007.08.03 / 15:05:21 /GREEN STAGE)

Chroméo
(2007.08.03 / 10:53:12 /RED MARQUEE)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
(2007.08.03 / 10:48:04 /RED MARQUEE)

The Beastie Boys
(2007.08.03 / 00:44:55 /GREEN STAGE)

Soul Flower Union
(2007.08.02 / 23:40:43 /FIELD OF HEAVEN)

Infernal Varanne's Globe of Death
(2007.08.02 / 21:38:45 /POW)

Nikujaga
(2007.08.02 / 10:37:14 /POW)

Seti And Futaba With Tabla Kwaiesa?
(2007.08.02 / 09:43:26 /OASIS AREA)

Peter, Bjorn and John
(2007.08.01 / 21:48:46 /RED MARQUEE)

Surrender to Jonathan

-To be loved

I have been to Jonathan Richman concerts where the former Modern Lover asked everyone to sit down, and I've been to Jonathan Richman concerts where he didn't use a PA and asked everyone to be quiet. In those days he had disowned his electric beginnings as a Lou Reed acolyte and a kind of godfather of punk. (He's about the same age as another godfather, Iggy Pop, who is also playing the fest this weekend, but no two musicians could have followed more divergent paths) For reasons he's never properly explained he went 180 degrees into acoustic children's music--or, at least, that's what it sounded like. And he's never looked back. But even when he was a Modern Lover, nostalgia fueled his art, and now, at 56, the nostalgia is riper than ever.

Befitting his eccentric reputation, Jonathan came out and did his own sound check to the delight of the crowd, who got to hear him do some mellifluous vocal arpeggios. "I'll be back in 5 minutes," and he was. Dressed in red jeans and an orange striped shirt, and sporting a dashing goatee, Jonathan didn't look his old boyish self, but he looked pretty damn good for a man his age. Maybe it's the dancing. His irrepressibility, which is mainly what fans love about him and his detractors find intolerable, has a way of interrupting his songs. In the middle of a verse, he'll drop his acoustic guitar (he doesn't use a strap) and execute a few supple moves which, in combination, are artless and winning. He no longer removes his shirt in moments of transport, but he gets pretty close. The audience went apeshit when he did that thing with his hips. His long-time drummer, Tommy Larkin, must have the patience of Job.

The song selection was sentimental to a fault: the beauty of Vincent Van Gogh's color sense; the simple pleasure of a public plaza ("don't need a TV or a newspaper"); and a number of songs sung in French and Italian that changed Jonathan's characteristic nasal tone into something new. If I didn't see him sing that himself, I wouldn't have known it was him. But the big surprise, and the main evidence that Jonathan's nostalgia has come full circle, is that he sang two complete songs from his electric Modern Lovers days: "Old World," which laments the loss of the world of his childhood, and "Girlfriend," in which the spelling challenged narrator offers a love song from the most honest teenage perspective even put down on vinyl.

But the most revealing song was one I never heard. "And then soon came 50," he sang, "just like 1-2-3." Jonathan must be sick of being always described as boyish, innocent, naive, but he still wants to remain young at heart. "Why did we come down to earth if not to make mistakes?" he said. And it was his sincerity that communicated to the audience, which had become quite huge (and quiet) by the time he got to the song that elicited the biggest reaction, "Dancing in the Lesbian Bar." Standing up front, noticed a bunch of youngish, partly bearded faces suddenly appear stage left. It was the Shins, who had just finished their set at the White Stage and apparently rushed over to catch the end of Jonathan's set. They got a special treat: an encore. The audience just wouldn't let him go and he returned to do a heartbreaking version of "Not So Much to Be Loved As to Love." He obviously didn't want to go away. Every concert adds to his nostalgia.


Reported by phil (2007.07.29 / 21:40)