Man Child

Oslo, 09.05.04

“Jonathan, I LOVE YOU!!!” We’re halfway through the show at this point. Jonathan Richman, looking impudently young for a man going on 50, is smiling broadly.

“Uh, thank you…uh…thank you very much, I, uh, I love you too!” Laughter, cheers.

Jonathan Richman has not been in Oslo for a decade or so, maybe longer. As the night will prove, it’s well worth the wait.

I have not been aware of him for that long. Until 2002, he was but the guy in the tree in There’s Something About Mary. The, I heard some of his stuff and liked it. Then, I moved to New Jersey and wa utterly and horribly miserable and went to a bar to drown my sorrows. Ordering a beer, I notcied a line in th back. What the hell? I thought. I checked it out; turend out Jonathan was playing that night. I happily paid my ten bucks and was treated to one of the the best shows I’ve ever seen.

I suppose I didn’t have that high expectations this time around. I mean, lightning doesn’t tend to strike twice. Could it possibly be as good? No. It was far, far better.

Richman is such a singular personality on stage; it’s just him and Tommy Larkin, the drummer, on stage. Jonathan plays his guitar fluently. Tommy keeps the beat, nuthin’ fancy. Jonathan sings, laughs, jokes, dances while Tommy sits there stoically. It’s cute; they’re kind of like an acoustic White Stripes, except I’d rather sleep with Meg than Tommy if I absolutely had to.

I only have a few of his albums, so I can’t give you a set list. He did play a lot of his most recent offering, Her Mystery Nof Of High Heels and Eyeshadow; the live rendition of Springtime in New York is more exciting than the recorded one. It’s also warmer and made me miss that particular city in a way I hadn’t in a while.

Many of the old chestnuts came out, like Pablo Picasso, I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar and many, many others that I didn’t know or forgot II don’t do notes, I just write this stuff for my own amusement). It didn’t matter. His music is warm and friendly and inclusive: it invites you in for hot chocolate and cheers you up. Jonathan dances for you on stage and it’s like he’s trying to express something that words just quite can’t.

He’s been described as naivistic; fair cop, but naive or not, it’s still immaculately expressive and universally recognizable to a fault. It really goes to show: in English, French, Spanish or Norwegian, love and the emotions thereof are all the same. Now excuse me, I must go hug myself.

10.05.2004 • Permalink