Jonathan Richman at the Triple Rock, 5/6/11
The Triple Rock hosted a different kind of punk legend than usual to a mixed-age and jubilant crowd Friday night. Jonathan Richman made yet another stop to the Twin Cities, performing at the club for the first time, and couldn't have seemed happier about it.
That's his shtick though. It takes very little to please the man. He's been bringing his music and heartfelt songs to people all over the world since the early '70s.
Almost 60 years young, the college rock staple and troubadour knows how to entertain. Typically verging on childlike, Jonathan is the one man party that never grew up yet delivers odes to living life to the fullest in love, heartache and music, with a sentimentality and pure emotional spirit that had all in attendance hanging on to every word and guitar solo, never hesitant to sing along.
Aside from a handful from Jonathan's latest, O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth, the set was standard fare from his extensive songbook. With some songs sung in Spanish, French and even Hebrew, Jonathan wove his newest material throughout the evening, mixing everyone's favorites as far back as some of the Modern Lovers era, including "Summer Feeling."
"That Summer Feeling"
Everything was very sporadic, from the song selection -- he mentioned he never makes a setlist -- to spontaneous drum and cowbell jams with his only accompaniment, longtime drummer Tommy Larkins. The full room complimented the almost-empty stage by singing along and even dancing when prompted by Jonathan's fits of his own dancing flurries. His approach to guitar was equally energized, with a less-is-more technique that often typically serves to get the song back into the right spot after he douses each tune with some of his flamenco solo style.
"I was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar," "Go Into the Darkness," "Bohemia," and even a song Jonathan seemingly made up on the spot about the East Coast and "cities made of stone" gave the room a workout, beaming smiles all around.
It was a satisfying night in a low-key but high-energy kind of way. If there's one thing about Jonathan Richman, it's that he never lets up and continues to not only live his life to the fullest but in a sense teaches the same spirit through song and performance. It's an infectious personality and we are always privileged to be in its presence. Don't miss the guy next time he comes around.
Personal bias: Have seen Jonathan at least a dozen times and he never disappoints.
The crowd: People who have probably put at least one Jonathan song on every mix tape they've made since the '70s.
Overheard in the crowd: "Uh, I'll be on soon after these guys finish up," Jonathan told me while hanging out in the crowd before his set.
Random notebook dump: The sleigh bells are a nice touch.