As someone far more familiar with the Modern Lovers than Jonathan Richman’s solo output, I had little idea what to anticipate from his show. All I know is that it took place on my birthday, and Mr. Richman provided plenty of entertainment to keep me pleased on a day of high expectations. It should be established that he showcased his musical talents first and foremost, and his skill and charm made the entire show fun.
Mr. Richman was playing an acoustic guitar, accompanied by a very accomplished drummer. He did not play the guitar exclusively, also including moments of cowbell and another instrument that I don’t know the name of, but could only be described as a “bell baton.” He involved the crowd in sing-a-longs for a couple of songs, everyone enthusiastically crooning with him. He also had no qualms with soaking up accolades from the audience, taking long pauses for applause while he smiled broadly and looked happy.
Almost all the songs were from Richman’s solo repertoire. Crowd favorites “Lesbian Bar” and “Just Like I Do” prompted excitement from all sides. He played one or two Modern Lovers’ songs for the people like me, but the bossanova-esque Spanish guitar sound rendered them very different from the Modern Lovers’ style. “Pablo Picasso” was recognizable almost only by its lyrics.
Once the night was out, Mr. Richman granted my birthday wish. All the couples around me swooned to his blissfully sappy tunes, gently swaying and singing along. It was the perfect serenade into my twenties. I laughed; I cried; I held strangers’ hands.
Posted: Jul 17, 2008