Joseph Arthur 07/15/2008
The Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Justin
(note, this review was first published at MTVnews.com. I have shared it From The Vault as I will be paying Mr. Arthur a return visit at The Troubadour this Saturday Night.)
The teams were supposed to be even – 3 straights and 3 gays. However, at the last minute one flip flopped and we found ourselves with the upper hand at 4-2. As we sat open, pillow-filled booth down the street from the Troubadour imbibing before the event, I waited diligently for ESPN to update me on the score of the 79th MLB All Star Game being played for the last time at Yankees Stadium. The highlights never came and, before we could order one more $15 pomegranate martini, we were on our way to see Joseph Arthur. Imagine my delight when I walked into the bar at the Troubadour and saw our hometown zero Russell Martin at the plate somewhere around the 14th inning. What was I missing, I thought? I love the All Star game, and it pained me to miss it. Martin ch(o)ked for the NL and so did Tejada who followed his at bat. I ordered a lite beer as to not be rude and watch the game like a mooch in the very empty bar. I stood and watched and while ads for DHL played, Joseph Arthur made his way to the stage. Just as the game was to come back on, though, the gal behind the bar switched off the game. I was left with no choice; it was time to check out the pride of Akron, Ohio.
As I walked through the double doors, I was shocked. The usually GA floor was covered with white plastic folding chairs that you would rent for a wedding and/or bingo night. Being the last person into the venue, I quickly discovered that I would be part of the standing room only crowd. Early Bird may get the worm, but at least I got to watch two pathetic outs of the All Star game. I own a few records by Mr. Arthur, but 95% of his Tuesday night set I did not recognize. Armed with only an acoustic guitar (there would be no digital loops or wacky guitar pedals on this night), he soothed the sold out crowd with a very mellow set (ok, he did kick his chair over at one point). Casual fans screamed out “hit” song requests by using lyrics, not song titles. Underage girls with fake IDs chatted over tender love songs, while a Seth Cohen look-alike hung out on the staircase watching on with puppy-dog love in his eyes. I, however, focused on two thing: waiting for that oh so important text message updating me on the All Star Game and trying not to fall asleep.
I realized last night that in my life I have listened to Joseph Arthur more while unconscious then while conscious. I am a music junkie, and my day is really only successful if I can have music playing 24/7. This includes driving, shower time & sleeping. I can not count the times I have put on this man’s records and fallen asleep. I do not say this as some sort of insult to the artist or to his music; I simply prefer his art to help my mind rest after a long day to the sleep aid known as Ambien. Personally, last night was a struggle for me. I really do like Joseph Arthur, and have always wanted to see him live. When my friends mentioned they were hitting this show, I quickly invited myself along. I hate to even say this, but well before the half way point, I found myself wishing it was over. I knew I was in trouble when I was more into his emullet (a mix of Bono’s 1980 mullet and some generic emo haircut you would find on a 14 year old boy at Hot Topic) then the music coming from the stage. Tuesday July 15th, was just one of those bad days for me and my mood was more Slayer than Joseph Arthur. They could have shot “Tootie” from The Facts of Life out of a cannon, and this angry, cranky old man would not have been impressed. So with apologies to Mr. Arthur, I should have stayed home and watched the All Star game. Maybe next time we will be on the same wave.