Alain Johannes 10/05/10
Amoeba Records – Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justio
On a night that felt more like Seattle than Hollywood, musical messiah Alain Johannes celebrated the release of his debut album Spark with an intimate set inside Amoeba Records. Known for his work with Eleven, Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures, the Cigar Box Guitarist managed to move both devoted fans and one plus-sized Asian girl whose only mission on a damp Tuesday night was to purchase the entire Seal catalogue for less than $12. With many from the extended QOTSA family tree (Josh Homme, Brody Dalle and Joey Castillo just to name a few) in the house, the brief yet beautiful set did not feel like a record store as much as it felt like a family reunion.
Hitting the stage just past 7pm, Johannes silenced the worlds greatest record store with an intense version of“Endless Eyes.” Johannes performed the first three songs from “Spark” straight through to start off the evening. As young children with their parents cameras point and clicked away, Johannes reflected upon his late partner in crime Natasha Shneider with dignity and grace.
When not giving each individual in the audience a giant lump in their throats, the man can shred on his custom Cigar Box guitar. Despite being only one man, the way Johannes strums upon the 8-string instrument makes one feel as if they are being assaulted by an acoustic army. A perfect example of this ferocious playing was “Gentle Ghosts.” Johannes made you fear that at any second, the delicate instrument would snap in two.
The highlight of the set was the only non-Spark song performed by Johannes. While originally found on “Desert Sessions Volume 7 & 8” – “Making A Cross” has truly become property of Johannes since the passing of Shneider. One look down the $4.95 or less aisle and you could see multiple individuals holding back tears. Following outstanding versions of “Spider” and “Unfinished Plans” Johannes swapped his Cigar Box for a 12 string and closed the set with “Making God Jealous.” Shortly after 40 minutes of soul-baring upon the stage came to an end, Johannes took the time to speak with fans and signed copies of his new record. For as vulnerable as Johannes was upon the stage, his spirit when face to face is nothing short of warm and inviting. While short, it was an honor to meet the man. As I walked out of the stores and into the rain, I looked down and saw that he wrote Love Life as part of the signature. I couldn’t agree with Mr. Johannes more.