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Concert Fri Mar 11 2011

Photos/Review: Jonathan Richman @ Cabaret Metro 3/11/11

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Jonathan Richman doesn't exactly put on a rock show. After all, in this 2001 Salon interview article, Jonathan Richman reveals he doesn't want to make music that would hurt a baby's ears. His is a charming serenade, more a moonlight sonata with dancing than a headbanger's ball. And yet, he's distinguished not in the way of a grandfather but in the vein of a sexy gentleman that would give Leonard Cohen a run for his money in that department. (Modern Lover, indeed!)

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There was great dancing tonight at Cabaret Metro and it was the kind of moves that only the very complex sort of artist can make. Richman was pensive and thoughtful but also very youthful and able to free himself from a depth that draws you down, even though he spoke extensively about how we should relish in suffering, especially the kind begotten from unrequited love in "When We Refuse to Suffer."

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Richman was also candid in a way that most musicians can't manage in a venue the size as The Metro. He made it seem as if he was singing directly to us as individuals and that he was deeply moved by our heartfelt applause. At one point, when singing about leaving the past history of racism and sexism behind in "Old World," a fan in front joked, "Tell us what you really think," prompting Richman to candidly and very slyly add to the song, "That's what I really think..well, she asked!" Often, he held his hands to his chest as if honestly proclaiming the truth of his richest thoughts and feelings.

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His style of playing certainly added instead of detracting from his sense of genuineness. Though he had a drummer on stage, the drumming was understated next to his guitar playing. In his 90 minute long set, he played an acoustic guitar with flourishes reminiscent of a Flamenco style at times. Of course, he put down his guitar to trip the light fantastic for favorites like "I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar." Another crowd pleaser, garnishing several happy guffaws was "My Affected Accent." Perhaps the most gentle song, however, was a newer one and title track from his recent album, 2010's Oh Moon, Queen of Night on Earth.

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The truth is that Richman soliloquizes as much as he sings but you get a sense of his personality in this way. However, it remained clear to anyone who was present at this show that his voice is still very much in tact. It's tender in a way that makes you gaze in wonder as you would at the constellations. Richman ended his set with more singing than dancing in a medley about love but the way he spoke about the songs made one sense that they were more autobiographical fact than fiction, which created a dearer devotion. Perhaps, Jonathan Richman needs Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love but we'll adore and cherish him all the same.

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Zeb / March 16, 2011 3:11 PM

Fantastic review, and great photos. You really captured the incomparable experience of a Jojo concert.

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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.

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

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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...
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