Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, February 29

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Industrial Recollections -- the return of Boy Dirt Car (and Eric Lunde) Review: De La Soul @ The Shrine »

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.

GB store

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.

GB store

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.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

GB store


Featured Series


Transmission on Flickr

Join the Transmission Flickr Pool.

About Transmission

Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks,
Transmission staff inbox:



Transmission Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15