Tuesday, 13 October 2009

review: jonathan richman @ oran mor, 10th october

Rock 'n' roll idolatry has effects both positive and negative. Blinkered dedication to onstage heroes can electrify a gig, but it also means every mediocre inter-song wisecrack uttered from the stage tends to be answered by sycophantic cackles. Since such exaggerated fawning is usually as prevalent at a concert as beer and body odour, a performer as genuinely funny as Jonathan Richman takes some getting used to, the hubbub of humoured crowd noise threatening to run riot over the Spartan set-up of nylon-string acoustic guitar and lightly-brushed drums. Not to worry: the arrangements may be minimal and the tone ad hoc, but the quality of songwriting comes through loud and clear, as does Richman's almost child-like perspective, which transforms any topic - springtime, sorrow, affected accents, Keith Richards - into a series of sweetly comic vignettes. The mirth Richman generates is anything but forced, steering the occasion well away from the call and response trappings of hero worship.

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