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Tuesday, December 12

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Concert Wed Jun 06 2012

Review: Jonathan Richman @ Pritzker Pavilion, 6/4

Gapers Jonathan Richman 1.jpg
Jonathan Richman (photos by Kirstie Shanley)

The best thing about seeing a concert at the Pritzker Pavilion is the people watching: the young woman who somehow pulled off a pair of high-waisted jeans that would have made the rest of us look like sausages; the teeny tiny babies being worn on their parents backs and stomachs; and the sun-darkened, shirtless man in a necktie standing near the west ramp, dancing to music coming through a pair of earphones.

At a youthful 61 years old, Jonathan Richman looked tiny on the enormous stage with only his guitar, drummer Tommy Larkins, and a drum kit. With his trademark worried expression on his face, Richman began the set with a song that opened with the lyrics: "We had a fight last night." He moved into multilingual territory with a song sung half in French, half in English, translating for the audience like an instructor of a massive impromptu language lesson, pausing to say "Let's hear what Tommy's up to," and breaking into some crowd-pleasing dance moves while Larkins performed a solo.

French was only the beginning of the multilingualism Richman brought to the show. "If this song seems like it's in Italian don't worry, it's just 17 different ways of saying 'it's a great party.'" (Which he pronounced "pahty," in the manner of those Boston-born.) He then moved to Hebrew and Arabic, with the same intro: "if this song seems like it's in Hebrew don't worry, it's just 18 different ways of saying 'it's a great party.'"

Gapers Jonathan Richman 3.jpg
Jonathan Richman (photos by Kirstie Shanley)

"In high school I was such a brat, I talked with an accent I didn't really have," Richman said, as he segued into "My Affected Accent," from the 2010 album O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth, and followed up with 2008's "Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild," a song that opens with the lyrics: "Well she don't need to put nothing in her hair, it's curly and wild just like her," which I will always enjoy pretending is about me.

Jonathan Richman 5.jpg
Jonathan Richman (photos by Kirstie Shanley)

From there he moved to the whimsical "No One Was Like Vermeer," and "Keith Richards" "No one plays guitar like that!" before moving back into his romantic vein and singing "My Baby Loves, Loves, Loves Me." He received a standing ovation for "When We Refuse to Suffer," which seemed perfectly suited to the quickly dropping temperatures ("how much would you suffer for Jonathan Richman?" The elements seemed to ask of the audience.) With the audience on its feet, Richman put his hand on his heart, seemingly moved by the display. "Wanna hear one more?" He asked, and began playing the opening notes to "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar," inspiring concertgoers to storm the aisles with impromptu dancing.

He played two more songs before the set was over; the decidedly more introspective "Twilight in Boston," and the softly sweet "Affection." I would have adored hearing more of his older works, like "Abominable Snowman in the Market", "Ice Cream Man," or "I'm Straight," but an evening with Jonathan Richman is always an evening well spent.

 
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brendancalling / June 11, 2012 9:35 AM

I saw him the previous Friday in Philly, where he closed with the "we had a fight" song. what's the actual title? It was a really great song that I'd like to add to my collection.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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