Jonathan Richman, Crescent Ballroom, 6/28/12

Categories: Last Night

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Abraham Karam
Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins at Crescent Ballroom. See more photos in our full slideshow.
Jonathan Richman
Crescent Ballroom
Thursday, June 28

See also: Jonathan Richman Doesn't Care for "Masculine Arrogance"
See also: Our full Jonathan Richman at Crescent Ballroom slideshow.

It's hard to know exactly what to say about about Jonathan Richman's performance at Crescent Ballroom last night.

Not because things weren't memorable (they were) or uneventful. Not because the crowd wasn't interesting and hilarious. And certainly not because Richman's performance lacked (it didn't). But the songwriter opened with a cut from his 2004 album Not So Much to Be Loved As to Love called "He Gave Us the Wine to Taste It," a song that warns against thinking too much, that celebrates the joy of experience over obsessive contemplation.

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Abraham Karam
Jonathan Richman
"He gave us the wine to taste and not to discuss," the 61-year-old singer intoned over the tasteful and sparse drumming of longtime collaborator Tommy Larkins.

And frankly, it's hard to take notes after that. Not only because of the poetic implications, but because Richman is hard to take your eyes off of. Shuffling around the stage, abandoning the microphone anchoring both his booming, unique voice and the nylon-string guitar he strummed to wander to the edges of the stage and sing directly to the crowd, or putting the guitar down altogether to boogie down as Larkins (dressed nattily in green jeans, green T-shirt, a dress blazer, and sunglasses) stomped quietly but masterfully.

Richman sang the haunting "Springtime in New York" next and paused to ask the crowd why the line about a freshly demolished building bringing "the smell of 1890 to the air" made people laugh. "I never got the joke of that line," he said. "It's just the smell of the plaster in the air." He sang it again, and this time no laughs obscured the deep melancholy of that line.

He scolded the New Times photographer, too, as he snapped off a shot during a quiet moment onstage. "Don't click that thing," he said, a sort of mischievous smile on his face. "I'm sure you're taking wonderful photos, but it's all about timing, young man."

Location Info

Crescent Ballroom

308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music


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2 comments
Gerald Schumacher
Gerald Schumacher

 NOTE: the entire set is available at Sugarmegs Richman.Jonathan.2012.0628.TheCrescentBallroom.Phoenix.AZ Jonathan Richman at The Crescent Ballroom Phoenix, AZ Thursday, June 28, 2012 -a duet with drummer Tommy Larkins 83:41 1. He Gave Us The Wine To Taste 2. Springtime In New York 3. Egyptian Reggae 4. O Moon, Queen Of Night On Earth 5. I Feel Like A Morning Star 6. Let Her Go To The Darkness 7. Spanish song about house of prostitution 8. I Was Dancing In The Lesbian Bar 9. No One Was Like Vermeer 10. Everyone Is Welcome To The Party 11. Bar-be-que (?) 12. It's A Bitchin' Party 13. Old World 14. Girlfriend 15. The World Is Showing Its Hand 16. Trumpet (?) 17. Her Olive Colored Voice (?) 18. I Should Have Been Softer (?) 19. I Love The World 20. When We Refuse To Suffer Jonathan Richman= vocals, guitar, percussion Tommy Larkins= drums Innovation Specialists ISI-HMA-1 > Tascam DR-07 > Audacity > Trader's Little Helper > You Nice show from Jo Jo. Recording came out pretty good, although Jonathan does wander around off mike some times. So I cut down the volume on a bit of the clapping and raised the overall volume to make it more comprehensible. I only see Jonathan occasionally, so I can't say if this show was typical, but it was fun. The recording does not, of course, capture the whole Jonathan experience, but it sounds OK. As you can hear, there was an intermission break after Vermeer, so I faded it down and came back after the break. I did my best guesses on the song titles. any help would be appreciated. Also, I divided up the songs where it seemed to make sense, although one song would flow into another (and through multiple variations and even languages), so it makes sense to just listen to the whole show. Slideshow with some nice pics here. http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/slideshow/jonathan-richman-at-crescent-ballroom-6-28-12-37187101/ Enjoy and share!

tom reardon
tom reardon

fantastic show....nice piece, jason. You captured it well. JR has always been a performer who is willing to put his heart on his sleeve and let you in on what he's thinking while he's performing.Too bad it was lost on some of the crowd last night, but for the rest of us, it was sublime.

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