When we last left off, Old Geezer Jaybee (a doubly redundant appellation if ever there was one) had a less than great time at a rock show. Less than great is still very good but Old Geezer Jaybee (heretofore labeled OGJ) spent good money on those seats and, dammit, he’s going to get his money’s worth. Every. Single. Dollar.
And woe be it to him or her that gets in his way, like that couple who were sort of necking (is that what the young folk call it these days?) and thus theoretically blocking Mrs. Jaybee’s view. Mrs. Jaybee was fine with it but that’s not the point! “Money’s worth” encompasses any and all members of the attending party. Luckily Mrs. Jaybee persuaded OGJ that she had an unobstructed view, thus preventing a scene.
The main problem, of course, was that OGJ hadn’t (notice how I’m talking about me like it’s some other loser?) familiarized himself sufficiently with the artist’s latest release. Plus, he had a beer, which, at his age means he’s going to fall asleep shortly. or get very cranky.
Even though he’d already spilt half of it on the brand new carpet at the beautifully restored Kings Theatre (even without going there you can tell it’s nice by the fancy way they spell theater) trying to navigate those elongated steps that no one can walk down gracefully to begin with,
This time around, he got water, and navigated those steps by avoiding them altogether. And most importantly, getting sufficiently familiar with Yo La Tengo’s latest album, as well as the earlier record it commemorates, and another one from 2000 for good measure.
And Yo La Tengo didn’t let him down.
But first, let’s talk about opener Nick Lowe.
It’s been about thirty five years since Nick first burst upon the scene. Oh, he’d been around far longer than that as part of Brinsley Schwarz. That’s when he wrote “What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding”. He made some classic solo records, like Pure Pop for Now People
and Labour of Lust, play with Rockpile and produce several Elvis Costello albums.
But since that time, he’s moved away from the fast, witty pop music he’s known for, opting for a slower, more acoustic sound.
And although his new music is less compelling than the old, Nick was always a charmer and could have gotten by on that alone. Luckily he mixed in new versions of some old songs, and was more than good enough. He was the perfect opener, actually.
And how about Yo La Tengo?
They were wonderful.
I was afraid that going acoustic might mean that everyone would be sitting down in a circle. It sounds nice and intimate, but it gets boring real fast.
But there they all were, standing right at the front of the stage. Even drummer Georgia Hubley, with the simplest drum kit possible - a la Maureen Tucker of the Velvet Underground. But unlike Tucker, tonight Georgia would be using brushes more than sticks, and singing.
I’m beginning to think Ira Kaplan only owns one T-shirt, since he seemed to be wearing the same one from the release party and the bio picture on allmusic.com. His noise guitar was totally absent this night. He was content to stick to acoustic and let Dave Schramm do the electric heavy lifting
And Dave Schramm - the prodigal son returning - was brilliant, providing the touch that would give these acoustic songs reach depth and punch.
Bassist James McNew - like he told me at the release party - played stand up bass and managed to sing fantastically while doing so. He was worried about doing both. You did great, James!
You don’t expect such great music from such down to earth people, but the band was totally committed to both the sound and spirit of the new record, About 75% of the show came from either Fakebook or Stuff Like That There. I wasn’t familiar with the other 25% but it all sounded really good.
The highlight was “Deeper into Movies” - a rouser from I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One - done with quiet intensity. I could tell they were loving what they were doing. The crowd was loving it too.
I spent the whole time grinning like an idiot. I even knew it, but didn’t care.
The show ended with Nick Lowe joining YLT for a two-song encore. Nick picked one, and YLT the other. Ira dared the crowd to guess which was which but that was easy.
First came a slow mournful “Walk Away Renee”, which had to be Nick’s pick. Modest to a fault, of course he’d do someone else’s song. One that fit his current style well.
And the closer, picked by YLT? Why, a Nick Lowe song, of course. “The Rollers Show”. Not done in the ebullient style of the original. It was slower, but joyful nonetheless. It was like a great big thank you to Nick for all the inspiration he’s given over his career.
The crowd walked away very satisfied.
And Old Geezer Jaybee, for once, was one with the crowd.
“The Roller Show”