With a smorgasbord of musicians spread across Southern California for the annual NAMM convention, Joseph Arthur once again found himself west of the 405 freeway for a night of hilarious comedy. Did I say comedy? I meant music. To be fair the intimate late night set at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica was a 50/50 split of both, much to the delight of those who politely turned off their phones and turned their focus onto the man who had recently returned from a trip to Mexico.
The nearly two hour set kicked off well past the advertised 10pm start time with Blue Lights In The Rear View. On stage alone in a bright red jacket and beat up hat upon his head, Arthur strummed the self-described Bonnie & Clyde tale using a guitar straight off the wall of the store (the acoustic instrument still had a price tag attached). Jokes came as rapidly as songs during the brief solo section of the show. When not referencing Mexico during the haunting Speed of Light, he was sharing tales of hitting it off with Sammy Hagar’s guitar tech. With Hagar being a recurring topic of banter through the night, I will fully admit that it was me who screamed out the request for I Can’t Drive 55 when Arthur asked what he should play after a powerful take on A Smile That Explodes. Arthur instead decided to play his breakout hit In The Sun for the audience filled with the 50+ demographic that allows him to make a humble living.
Even before In The Sun wrapped, Arthur began to bring friends out on stage. Grabbing C.C. White from the front row, she sang backup on In The Sun, while Bill Dobrow and Jonny Polonsky joined on percussion and bass respectively as soon as the song wrapped. For the next hour, the four musicians (who couldn’t decide if they wanted to be called Chickenshit or Chickenhead based off Arthur’s continued discussion of Hagar and his project Chickenfoot) focused on choice cuts from Arthur’s 2013 masterpieceThe Ballad of Boogie Christ. With literally 25 minutes of practice with Polonsky (who has performed with everyone from Puscifer to Neil Diamond over the years), the set was loose, yet never in danger of derailing. His low end supplemented Arthur’s lead licks on standout songs such as The Ballad of Boogie Christ, I Used To Know How To Walk On Water, Currency of Love, and Black Flowers. While Arthur may not have received the enthused reaction he expected when he announced that the true story King Of Cleveland would be closing the set, it may have been that the crowd was still taking in the painting he completed during the loop heavy rendition of I Miss The Zoo.
After an ever so brief break, Arthur returned for a lengthy encore that consisted of classics from the back catalogue, comparisons of Sylvester Stallone to Bruce Springsteen, and a very special tribute to Lou Reed. A fan of the recent boxing film Grudge Match, Arthur confessed that Black Lexus was a true story before performing the song. However, the highlight of the evening was not Arthur sharing how he doesn’t use a teleprompter like older rock stars as he struggled to fulfill a request for Even Tho. The highlight was his moving tribute to Lou Reed with his first ever public performance of Walk On The Wild Side. With lyrics written down on a massive piece of cardboard, Arthur struggled yet never fell flat on his face in paying tribute to one of his heroes. In fact, on a night where his backing band sounded remarkably tight for such little practice, the vulnerability and sincerity within the cover was a welcome breath of fresh air.
Questioning if Santa Monica was part of Los Angeles (editors note: it is its own city and not part of Los Angeles, despite what most of the crowd claimed) Arthur shared his love for the Golden State before calling it a night. Not much happens west of the 405 when it comes to music in Southern California. Arthur even mentioned he hasn’t done much performance wise in Santa Monica. However, with plenty of performances in Venice over the years, it’s always a special occasion when Arthur visits out little corner of the world. As the rest of the 50+ AARP demographic inside McCabe’s would confirm, Arthur’s mix of comedy and music was a welcome treat to our neighborhood and we all eagerly await his triumphant return to Pico Boulevard.
RNDM Make Their Network Television Debut On Jimmy Fallon
Some of us here at Concert Confessions are huge Joseph Arthur fans, we’ll follow all his side projects around as long as he has them. The latest band to feature the talents of this awesome guitarist is RNDM, which features Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament and Richard Stuverud on drums. You can check them out making their network Television debut on Jimmy Fallon last night, performing “Modern Times” and “Ain’t Got No Mag 7”. The videos lay below, courtesy of the Audio Perv.
Check out the band on tour in November, see the dates by clicking here
Don’t feel bad if you have not heard of RNDM. They are a new band. Now you should feel bad if you don’t know the members of the band as RNDM features Joseph Arthur, Richard Stuverud and Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament. The band is set to release their debut album (recorded in Ament’s Montana studio) Acts on October 30th. A tour will kick off three days later in Brooklyn and you can check out the dates below. Rolling Stone has the group’s first single Modern Times streaming and you can check it out by clicking here. For more information on RNDM check out their official website by clicking here.
RNDM November 2012 North American Tour Dates:
November 2: Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
November 3: Washington DC – Black Cat
November 4: Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
November 7: Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
November 8: New York City, NY – The Bowery Ballroom
November 9: Montreal, QC – Coronoa
November 13: Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
November 14: Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
November 15: Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue & 7th St. Entry
November 16: Lawrence, KS – The Bottleneck
November 18: Boulder, CO – The Fox
November 21: Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour
November 23: San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
November 25:Portland, OR – The Doug Fir Lounge
November 26: Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret
November 27: Seattle, WA – The Showbox at the Market
Joseph Arthur Hits The Road In Support Of ‘Redemption City’
The fact is if he needed it, Reverend Justito would probably give Joseph Arthur a kidney. He loves the man and his art that much. Earlier this year, Arthur released the incredible double disc effort Redemption Cityand as we just discovered he hits the road today in Philly to support it. You can check out our extensive coverage of past Arthur shows by clicking here. You can check the dates for his current trek down below.
05/17/12 – World Café Live/Philadelphia, PA
05/23/12 – Bowery Ballroom/New York, NY#
05/26/12 – City Winery/New York, NY
05/28/12 – Kentucky Theatre – Lexington, KY
05/30/12 – Waterfront Park – Louisville, KY
05/31/12 – Radio Radio – Indianapolis, IN
06/01/12 – Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
06/02/12 – Proud Larry’s – Oxford, MS
06/03/12 – 3rd and Lindsley – Nashville, TN
06/06/12 – One Eyed Jack’s – New Orleans, LA
06/07/12 – The Bottle Tree – Birmingham, AL
06/08/12 – Red Clay Theatre – Duluth, GA
06/09/12 – Evening Muse – Charlotte, NC
07/07/23 – City Winery – New York, NY
#Main Support to The Afghan Whigs
To check out all Joseph Arthur’s official website click here.
Joseph Arthur Rocks The Late Show With David Letterman
In the day and age of embedded video, it is rare I ever tune into late night Television to catch a musical artist. However the moment I heard that Concert Confessions favorite Joseph Arthur would be a guest of David Letterman, I made sure to sit my ass down on the couch around 12:15 am PST to catch one of the brightest artists to emerge over the past 25 years.
Supporting his just released FREE double record Redemption City, Arthur hit the late night circuit to perform “Travel As Equals.” Armed with a backing band that included former Ryan Adams & Grace Potter bassist Catherine Popper, Russell Simmins and backup vocals from Martha Redbone, Queen Esther & Maya Azucena, and Mary Worm, Arthur blew the roof off the Ed Sullivan Theatre.
Arthur is scheduled to play four shows in Quebec in March. To download his new album, click here.
Oh those crazy German’s. I truly assumed I would never catch these guys again after the Great White fiasco, but there I was on the floor of the sold out Forum watching the band’s first North American tour in nearly a decade. It was all you could want from a Rammstein show – pulverizing riffs, shock value galore and lots and lots of fire.
The only reason I went to Chris Cornell is so I wouldn’t have to sit home alone for another night. I really didn’t expect much and just assumed I was crossing another artist off the list (as you can see in the review, I had actually seen Cornell live and forgot all about it). As much fun as it was to get videos taped at a show where armed guards stood looking to shoot anyone with a phone or a camera, as it turns out the music was really amazing. Cornell’s voice sounded strong, he performed stripped down versions of songs that span his entire career and hell if the Rock and Roll career does not work out, the man is funny enough to be a stand-up comedian.
Truth be told, this wasn’t so much about the music as much as it was about the Experience. Traveling alone through the streets of New Orleans 2000 miles from home with a once in a lifetime chance to check out one of American’s premiere music festivals. Don’t get me wrong, Mastodon, Social D and Girl Talk all killed it up on stage. However, it was meeting a kid fifteen years younger than me from my home town. It was checking out a beautiful park in a beautiful city and taking in a culture very different from Los Angeles. It was the sweet Street Car driver who pointed out all the great spots to eat far from Bourbon Street. Just like the name said, it truly was an experience.
There is something truly special about Joseph Arthur in Venice in April. Even if I tried to explain it, it simply wouldn’t make sense. So when this last minute gig was announced the same weekend as Coachella, I got my ass down to Venice faster than you can say Milk truck. Having seen the man at three of his four shows at the Bootleg Theater earlier in the year, I didn’t know what to expect out in Venice. With less than two dozen people showing up to the last minute gig, it was more like Arthur was playing in your living room then your typical concert. Perhaps it was the dog running around the venue, perhaps it was the fact he was cool enough to play “Morning Cup” for me, whatever it was this performance brought out some of the best feelings I have ever felt.
When Oasis split, I found myself bummed I never made an effort to catch a proper show. I figured I may as well make the effort to catch the side projects till the day the Gallagher’s get back together. While we won’t mention the worst show we saw in 2011, Noel’s performance at UCLA’s Royce Hall was nothing short of exquisite. In between playing nearly the entire debut album, the man busted out some of Oasis’ biggest hits including “Wonderwall” and “Supersonic.” Oh and for the record it was not I who asked him to take off his shirt, but it was me who did request he play some Kasabian.
So let me get this right, I get to leave Easter dinner early to watch Amon Amarth perform two sets of music? Oh and of those two sets of music, one of them is the bands’ latest release Surtur Rising from front to back? With no support, the mighty men from Scandinavia played almost three hours of music to a blood hungry crowd of sweaty men young and old. Much like an Easter Sunday service, the crowd sang along to every word worshiping the band and their every command. My only regret was the fact I was unable to experience it all over again when the group hit Anaheim in August.
When 2011 started, I just assumed TV on the Radio was some over-blown hipster bullshit from Brooklyn. While that is totally correct, that didn’t stop me from falling in love with the group. As I mentioned in the original review, I didn’t even want to go to this show, but the lady had already purchased me a ticket. Then the group became unavoidable. Phish was covering Golden Age and someone I really respect kept posting Will Doto their Facebook wall. By the time I walked into the Bowl, I had not only owned TVOTR on vinyl, but was pumped for the gig. Grouped with other up and coming acts including Warpaint and Arctic Monkey’s – TVOTR’s headline set was a fierce hour of post punk/post hardcore/post indie yet totally original melodies and madness. Your new favorite band of 2005 is my new favorite band of 2011.
I am not a huge Prince fan. Don’t get me wrong the man has some great songs but it’s not something I listen too very often. Yet with 21 shows with most tickets priced at $25 there was no way in hell I was going to miss one of the greatest performers of the last 100 years in my back yard. As much fun as my birthday was with The Purple One in May, when it comes to music this show was one of the greatest I have ever seen no matter what the year is. He played the hits, he got funky with Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham, he performed encores nearly twenty minutes after the house lights came up. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. If you live in Southern California and missed this run – shame on you.
It was late 2010 when my pal James and I made plans to have a mini Ween California tour. I would fly to the Bay Area to get brown in Oaktown and he would come back with me to see the brothers Boognish in Los Angeles. From sneaking onto the floor to the sweet mini acoustic set there are just too many high water marks to mention. So instead we will just give a shout out to the hood rat who threatened to kill me on BART after I informed her I was not a drunk, but a drug addict.
As I said last year, as long as I see Phish I will always know what my top show of any given year is. This year I was not only fortunate enough to catch the band four times (so really, the top four shows of 2011 were all Phish), I finally got to see the boys live at The Gorge. It has been a dream of mine to do such a thing since the summer of 1997 and what a magical weekend it was. I could write a novel about the inside jokes of the weekend. From Eel attacks to me learning to open a bottle of beer with a lighter, it truly was one of the best weekends of my life. Oh and the music? All I have to say is Rock and Roll>Meatstick>Boogie On Reggae Woman.
The 62nd Edition of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series is a special one indeed for a couple of reasons. One, we’re heading out to the Bowery Electric (Joey Ramone Pl & 3rd St) down in the East Village for a charity event benefiting the Toys for Tots Foundation( ) featuring the musical styling of Joseph Arthur (and opener James Maddock). Never a bad thing to gain some good karma. Second reason this is special, it’s because I’ve officially taken a semester off of school to pursue my dreams: doing this…fighting on the front lines of the social media takeover of traditional rock journalism as we know it. Anyway, should be a fun night. Doors are at 8PM, show at 8:45PM. I’m off work on little ol’ Staten Island at 4, giving me plenty of time to pick up some last minute holiday gifts in Times Square.
Walking downstairs into the Bowery Electric, I enter a room about the size of the one I sleep every night-equipped with a stage. There’s a floor that’s gonna hold maybe 20 of us, with steps leading up to a bar in the back-theres a railing when you get up there-considering changing my spot when the music comes on. There’s a sign that says “Occupancy by more than 108 persons is dangerous and unlawful”. Obviously the fire Marshall hasn’t been here in a while-hope they’re counting heads at the door we’re about to eclipse that occupancy.
Everyone I spoke to at the bar and in the room were all here for James Maddock, so when he fronted the 3 piece that took the stage at 8:50, it was to a gracious applause. I taped the first song-Maddock is strumming an acoustic guitar, with a bass player and drummer keeping pace, almost quietly. I’ve given up my seat and headed to the front of the room to the far left of the stage-now I’m too close. But this bluesy bastard has got me into it! Harmonica hanging from his neck, singing folky tunes sounding so much like Bon Dylan- if Bob Dylan’s song were recognizable live. Heads are nodding to a song I’m gonna take a guess is called “When the Stars Align”.. They turned me into a fan, and went off around 9:40..
All cards on the table, I didn’t know anything about Joseph Arthur until I started contributing to Concert Confessions. Only through the ceaseless praise from Reverend Justito was this show even on my radar. After finding out I was attending a few weeks ago I started listening to all the available stuff on YouTube. Trying to familiarize myself with some of the work, listening to the songs didn’t give me any indication that I made the wrong decision here; if anything got me more excited.
At 10:17, Joseph Arthur took the stage with band. And here I thought we were in for a night of slow jams-don’t let the wine goblets fool you-roof is about to come off. The girl next to me(who took a bus down from Toronto specifically for this show) says she’s never seen him with a band and that it’s usually him alone with like a million pedals. He’s a got a drummer channeling his inner Keith Moon, and a guy playing an acoustic guitar as he plays a very weathered electric guitar.
Every song, even the softer slower building tunes- had a crazy little effects box jam out portion of it. I taped a few songs, and I noticed them all going over six minutes. Hopefully the girls chatting it up to the right of me don’t show up on video. Bout 3 songs in, Arthur addresses the crowd and says “happy toys for tots day”. Then he’s like “this one is inspired spefically by Toys for Tots.. song’s called ‘Even Though'”-And before even strumming a chord he smirks and says “yea this has nothing to do with that at all..you totally caught me”.
Parts jammy and bluesy-parts distorted pedal busting madness; this night was nothing short of a win. Then, just when I start to really relax and enjoy myself he asks for the time. It was 10:57. He’s like “we only have 15 more minutes”. Due to venue restrictions, show has to end by 11:15… People in the crowd screamed “Occupy Bowery Electric!”-which was awesome. He played a few more. One being “Fistful of Mercy”, and the other being a song about the Occupy movements called “We Stand As One” -which he needed to reach to his iPad for assistance with the lyrics (awesome). After the song, it was like 11:20 and they said goodnight. Couldn’t have been more than 12, maybe14 songs at the length they were going. Yet with the sheer epicness in which they were delivered, I felt so fulfilled.
Here’s something you don’t see everyday: once the guitars were unplugged some guy was screaming stuff toward Joseph Arthur-all I heard was “mother fucker” and the phrase “Toby Keith” repeated as he stormed out the venue doors. Joseph, who is walking right by me as he’s exiting stage, looks at me and my Toronto friend and is like “what was he saying?” and I was like “he was screaming something about Toby Keith”. He headed off stage. Toby Keith? What the hell was that?? We just had ourselves an awesome night here, and some idiot gets drunk and starts shouting names of terrible artists. I’m so bewildered, I just can’t put it together. Hope Joseph Arthur and his band know that there was only one moron in the crowd, the rest of us were extremely satisfied with an evening of good tunes.
-Joseph Arthur plays City Winery on January 1st. The trooper from Toronto-who I hopefully learn her name by then-says she’ll be at that show too.
-I like how they named the street Joey Ramone Place. And by like I mean I think it’s stupid. This whole “The Ramones created punk” mystic is idiotoc-bands like the Stoogies and MC5 were playing that kinda music in Detroit 5 years before The Ramones ever took the stage.
-What’s up with all these “Rock” venues having performers needing to get off at 11 o clock or even 10 o clock sometimes for “Dance Parties”? There’s tons of places in NYC to find a nice dance floor where all the 19 year old girls can go, sniff Percocet and get slutty. Stop taking over the little cool dingy places I’m trying to attend shows-you are f#%king with my sh!t.
Just the other day, I was outnumbered by my older (and dare I say slightly out of touch) co-workers. #Twitter is useless they all claimed. Well, had it not been for that useless social media outlet, I would have never known that Joseph Arthur would be playing a last minute show less than five miles from my home. With plans of an early bed time thrown away, I headed down to a place called the Revival: Venice Sound Stage for yet another round of magic with Mr. Arthur.
Before we discuss the music, it’s important to describe the Revival: Venice Sound Stage. It is hidden in a large brick building complex that is buried in a residential neighborhood in Venice, CA. If you know where the Del Taco is on Lincoln, it’s three blocks behind it. After walking up a long driveway, past what I can only assume are clothing factories and artist lockouts, I finally found unit G. Having been told earlier in the day that the music started at 9pm, I assumed I would be casually cool walking in around 9:30. Wrong, as it turns out, the place was not yet opened and I was the first “fan” there (our pal Y was the only other individual I saw inside the venue). The gal at the plastic card table accepted my $10 donation and allowed me in despite the fact Arthur was messing with his massive pedal boards’ mid-sound-check. Looking around, the inside is actually rather sweet. Some small stools/chairs set up; random art exhibits spread across the floor and a sweet dog named Chumash thrown in for good measure. Truly an exciting place that I hope I can check out again in the near future.
I found a seat and as a few more folks wandered into the venue, we got to hear Arthur perform “Out On A Limb” to make sure everything was working properly. When sound check ended, Arthur roamed the room saying hello to various friends as Y set up. If you read our coverage of the Bootleg Theater residency back in February, you know all about Y. While his partner in crime with the pink guitar was MIA, Y warmed up the room with a quick three song set. Well, four song set if you include his sound check of the Poison classic “Every Rose Has its Thorn.” The first song was called “Lonely Angels” and in talking to Y after the set, he told me it’s his “Black Dog” in the sense the songs title is only mentioned once within the song. The second song was very familiar from the Bootleg Theater run. If Y had a hit at this point in his career; “Give It Up To Love” would be it. He closed the brief set with another solo acoustic song called “Mars.”
Y’s confidence from that first unannounced night at Bootleg has truly blossomed. After the set, he jumped off the stage and came over to say hello. What happened next I must give Y mad kudos for. If I had a dollar for every time someone said Justin-time or Justin-credible to me, I could pay off the server space/web URL’s for this site for the next 15 years. In telling him my name was Justin, he was like oh like Just-in The Wind (in melody with the Kansas jam Dust In The Wind). That was a first and it truly made me laugh. I thanked him for the sticker, and he traveled to the next crowd member sharing his tales of when he was a pirate upon the high seas.
Arthur hit the stage at 10:45pm and opened with “Vacancy.” It was the only time all night that Arthur was joined by a special guest. That guest of course was the venue’s four legged resident Chumash whose bark harmonized well with the opening number. Arthur even joked about the bitches guest vocals as he tuned up for his official performance of “Out On A Limb.” While the sound check version was stripped down and minimal, Arthur brought out multiple layers of loops and effects for the 20-25 folks who made it out to Venice on a windy yet warm Thursday night. While there were multiple layers, the song never lost the delicate touch that makes it so magical in the first place.
As a fan of jam bands, I love when Arthur segues from song to song. On this particular evening, he pushed it three songs deep with “This Is Still My World>Smile That Explodes>Too Much To Hide.” The high water mark in the sequence was the piercing jam that connected “This Is Still My World” to “Smile That Explodes.” We all know “World” is Sibyl Buck’s favorite pop songof all time, and even after watching the replay I am still not sure how Arthur got such a loud snarling bad ass mamba jamba jam out of the soft ballad. I also must ponder if the string of songs would have gone longer if not for Arthur’s amp crapping out on him during “Too Much To Hide.”
In between random tales of his recent trip to China, Arthur shared how the venue felt more like a living room and how he truly felt naked upon the stage. As smells of marijuana and In & Out Hamburgers started to choke the room, Arthur asked if anyone had any requests. I knew this was my shot to hear a song I was dying to hear without being that asshole who shouts requests at inappropriate moments. Three songs were screamed out, which Arthur performed in reverse order of how they were received. First up was “I Miss The Zoo.” This could very well be the first time Arthur has performed “I Miss The Zoo” without having multiple pages of lyrics in front of him. Very stripped back, I am rather confident he nailed all the lyrics, which was damn exciting for someone who has seen this jam grow from early versions during his April 2010 Venice residency.
Up next was my very bratty request. From the Could We Survive EP – I have always been a huge fan of “Morning Cup.” Sadly, in all the shows I have seen Arthur play, the man has never busted this gem out. It took him a bit to remember the opening chords, but once he did, it was as if he had played it nightly for the last decade. With minimal stage lighting, Arthur continued on with the requests, strumming and singing both “History” and “In The Sun” from his best known record Come To Where I’m From. Despite never leaving the stage, Arthur declared that “Echo Park” would be his encore.
Had much of LA not already been committed to Coachella, Janet Jackson, Prince, Big Audio Dynamite, Duran Duran and Sleigh Bells, I must assume more folks would have made it down to the Venice Sound Studios. To be totally honest, I am glad it was such an intimate event. I’ve seen Joseph Arthur in concert, on this Thursday night in Venice, I got to see my pal Joe perform some jams for a room full of friends.
Venice Sound Stage 04/14/11 Set list
Out On A Limb
Out On A Limb
This Is Still My World>
Smile That Explodes>
Too Much To Hide
I Miss The Zoo**
In The Sun**
*With Guest Vocals from the venue’s resident dog Chumash
** By Request
***Arthur never left stage for a traditional encore break; instead he simply declared that it was his encore.
While millions sat glued to their television sets on a Tuesday night, I once again found myself entering the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles, CA. Sure, perhaps Charlie Sheen was WINNING the ratings war for ABC, but for those tightly packed into the warehouse turned music venue, the real victory was watching Joseph Arthur close his triumphant month long run.
I actually entered the venue about 62 minutes before Sheen took the airwaves on the West coast. For those who read my first two reviews from this run, I have good news. The guy(s) who plays each week before the show is supposed to start are named Y. The bad news is that any respect I had for the guy(s) was lost as Y made the unfortunate decision to wear a Journey t-shirt. Anyone who knows me knows I fucking hate Journey more than Charlie Sheen hates Chuck Lorre. That said; each week I saw Y, the duos confidence grew and their songs are coming along nicely despite the fact they belong on Mr. Blackwell’s worst dressed list.
The actual opening act was a band called Line and Circle. Apparently one of the dudes grew up across the street from Joseph Arthur. The best way to describe the bands sound is VaginaCore. It’s pop-rock with an indie edge for gals who wear moccasins, leggings and scarves. While I am not opposed to the soft flowing sounds of VaginaCore, there is a fine line between pulling it off and being dull and boring. I wish I could say that Line and Circle pulled it off, however that is not the case. The riffs lacked depth, the band looked stiff and the only thing that managed to excite me during the 30 minute set was the outro jam of the bands second song. Now, before you accuse me of being the angry metal head without an open mind to this form of music take note that I surveyed three females who saw the performance. Two of the three informed me that they were bored by Line and Circle. Who knows, maybe it was a bad night, maybe they just flat out suck? Regardless, of the three acts I saw open for Arthur over the past month, this is the only one I plan to avoid in the future.
After a lengthy tear down, Arthur took the Bootleg stage for the final Tuesday of his residency at just past 10:30pm Had it not been for his white Strat being out of tune, we would have witnessed an opening run of “You Are Free>A Smile That Explodes>Vacancy.” However, with the guitar too far gone out of tune, Arthur had no choice but to stop seconds into “Vacancy.” It what would become a reoccurring theme throughout the evening (mic stands falling, monitors not working), gremlins overtook Arthur’s pedal board mid-way through “Vacancy” causing him to loose his vast collection of loops. This had no effect on Arthur as he continued on with the song despite the bump in the road.
When not leading the crowd in OMMMM chants or begging Mexican Coke-a-cola for a sponsorship, Arthur was showcasing songs that are expected to be on his upcoming solo album. After performing the finger picked “Out On A Limb” by himself, Arthur invited fellow Lonely Astronaut Sibyl Buck to the stage. Buck added just the right amount of vocal melody to lush and mellow numbers such as “Love Never Asks You To Lie” & “This Is Still My World.” When not joking with the venues sound man or various friends and family in the audience, Arthur was having a laugh with Buck, informing the crowd that “This Is Still My World” is without a doubt her favorite pop song in the universe. When the duo finally began the song, the audience was hypnotized by its soft and soothing sounds.
I had actually put my camera away for a second when Arthur invited vocalist C.C. White and sax player Helga (last name unknown) to join him and Buck upon the stage. Looking right me Arthur joked that this one should be placed onto YouTube. As others rushed to reach their cameras, the four-some (especially Helga) took his song “Faith” and made it feel more New Orleans then Los Angeles. Outer space by way of Bonnaroo poetry tent jam “I Missed The Zoo” followed and with that Arthur thanked the crowd before leaving the stage. Looking at my phone (the cell phone is the new watch for those keeping score at home) I assumed we would get a brief encore and our wonderful month would be over. Thankfully I was wrong.
As it turns out, Arthur essentially came back for a second set. Things got underway with Arthur creating loops on a drum before hitting up the venues piano for “Eyes On My Back.” From there, Arthur performed songs he promised friends that he would play for them. Melding pure Rock ‘n Roll instinct with layers of distorted melodies; one could close their eyes and imagine they were listening to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club performing “Black Lexus.” Obligated to keep his word, Arthur dusted off “Can’t Exist” at the request of someone named Kenny. Yet what happened next is the hands down highlight of any Joseph Arthur show I have ever seen.
Our catch phrase here at Concert Confessions is Live Music Reviews By Fans For Fans. I take great pride in this website, and what sets us apart from Rolling Stone or Pitchfork is the fact that we are real music fans sharing our experience with the addiction known as live music. So you can imagine the shockwaves that went through my body when Arthur stopped strumming the opening chords of “Slide Away “ and told the crowd “Hey that’s the Concert Confession guy right there.” My heart started pounding, my knees almost buckled and a the smile on my face probably looked as if I was a 13 year old girl who had just met Justin Bieber. Arthur is easily one of the top 10 live acts I have seen in my life, so for him to give us a shout out is a moment I hope I get to re-live if my life ever flashes in front of me.
I actually had to watch the video of “Slide Away” to remember what went down after the shout out. In watching the replay, all I have to say is Go Helga! With the encore now close to 45 minutes in length, it was clear that Arthur had no desire to exit stage. It was actually well past midnight when Arthur informed us the final number would be “Lack A Vision.” The loop heavy song gave the multi-tasking artist the opportunity to finish his on stage painting before calling it a night (or so we thought). As he exited the stage, Arthur paused, picked up his acoustic guitar before basically sitting in the laps myself, Rock is a Girl’s Best Friend and a few other lucky fans. Despite having turned down a request for his biggest hit earlier in the night, Arthur launched into “In The Sun.” All who left early missed a truly inspiring moment. There wasn’t a single person inside the Bootleg who didn’t join in on vocals. In fact the only thing that was missing was a campfire. It truly was the perfect ending to an incredible run with Joseph Arthur. I really truly feel blessed to have witnessed and even slightly become a part of such a powerful experience and I can’t wait to do it again something.
Joseph Arthur Joins Twilight Singers on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last night in Hollywood, Twilight Singers stopped by the Jimmy Kimmel Live program to promote their just released record Dynamite Steps. The Greg Dulli fronted band performed the song “On The Corner” with a little help from our good pal Joseph Arthur. You can watch the complete performance below.
This was not the first time Arthur has joined Twilight Singers on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Click here to check out a performance of “40 Dollars” and “Sublime” from a few years back.
If you want to check out Twilight Singers live and in person, click here for spring 2011 tour dates that find the band performing in both Europe and North America.
As the rain began to fall on the South Land, I once again headed east towards downtown Los Angeles for a night with Joseph Arthur. A lack of sleep, a stressful week at the day job and the fact I was fresh out of business cards wasn’t going to stop me from missing night two of Arthur’s month long run at Bootleg Theater. While some may argue that GENTRIFICATION from Echo Parkhas hit this neighborhood, I once again witnessed events on my drive that made this sixFOOTtwo 200+ pound white boy cringe. Yet like I said last week, its Joseph f’n Arthur and he’s worth it.
Before I had a chance to hand over the $12 cover fee, I heard something familiar from last week. It was the soft sounds of the two nameless guys who play before the posted start time. I stood for a few minutes watching, but then decided my time would be better spent exploring the back room where various paintings of Arthur are being displayed. I will say that the band mentioned their name at the end of the set, but unfortunately I couldn’t quite make the name out. I know it starts with a W and I believe they said their name was Whine. Perhaps if we cross paths in two weeks, I can nail this information down and finally give them proper credit.
The main support act for the evening was Nashville based folk indie pop singer/songwriter Madi Diaz (and her pal Keith). Before the duo had a chance to perform a single song, Diaz had won me over with her charming stage banter. Stalling for time while the soundman worked on Keith’s malfunctioning guitar, Diaz joked about jogging, lunch and at what point in the work week it becomes acceptable to eat BBQ (for the record, if you work in Burbank it’s Wednesday when Smokin’ Willie’s BBQ Truck comes to town). Once the problem was corrected, we were underway for a set of music that ended up being far more impressive then the stage banter.
I always fear when I see a duo get up on stage with nothing more than acoustic guitars and vocal chords. Any asshole(s) can get up and play a few chords while expressing their inner most thoughts via verse/chorus/verse format. However, it takes true talent and a little bit of luck to stir emotions deep in one’s soul and thankfully for Keith and Madi they have been blessed with both. While I am unable to tell you exact song titles, I can tell you that the set consisted of songs about relationships with the one you love. There was the break up song, and then there was the make out song and who could forget the soft sad song which featured a special guest appearance by some stupid hipster in the crowd cracking open a can of PBR?
While the duo may only have limited instrumentation, each song took a very different sonic journey thanks to the use of various tunings and style of play. One song was almost punk rock in nature with the quick and powerful strumming of power chords, while the next song would feature flamenco inspired finger picking. It’s rare I write three paragraphs about an opening act, but Madi (and Keith) could have very well headlined on this particular night. Their music moved the collective soul of all in the converted warehouse; and as the duo exited the stage you just knew that all those folks reaching for their phones were texting friends to share what they had just discovered.
I’ll spare you the details on the drunken hipster dressed like a sailor who almost got his ass kicked for talking shit about my Iron Maiden shirt and get straight to the main event. Hailing from Akron, Ohio by way of New York City, Joseph Arthur took to the stage with his tag team partner for the night – Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins at 10pm sharp. By the time the two were bashing out the final notes of the opening number “Black Lexus” it was clear that on this rainy Tuesday night that when he wants to, Arthur; can compete with some of the best rock & roll duo’s to call Akron home.
The duo of Arthur & Simins really clicked by the third song of the night, which I can only describe as Temporary People>Poetry Reading>Jam. As I have said before, each show Arthur puts on is a unique one of a kind experience and this version of “Temporary People” was completely different from the version of a week ago. The outro jam was much like watching Dr. Frankenstein vs. Godzilla battle it out. Arthur worked feverishly tweaking guitar pedals and whaling upon a white Stratocaster as Simins wreaked havoc upon his five piece drum set. What’s most freakish in looking back was the fact that these two were just warming up.
Aiming to please (his words, not mine) Arthur began taking requests from various females in the audience. First up was “Vacancy” which featured a subdued Simins lightly hitting his kit while allowing the focus to remain on Arthur. Had the chatty Arthur not mentioned the fact Simins didn’t know the next request “Invisible Hands” chances are no one would have noticed. While the song was slightly faster than most versions, yet the haunting feeling that comes with the number was as strong as ever.
As Arthur joked with the crowd after performing “Invisible Hands” a voice from the back of the room screamed FAT TONY. Holding back a giant smile, Arthur invited the heckler up on stage. Why wouldn’t he, the heckler was current Twilight Singers/former Afghan Whigs vocalist Greg Dulli. No stranger to sharing the stage with Arthur, both men confessed their fears over having to share a mic with bad breath. Thankfully Dulli came to the rescue with a pack of gum that had only two remaining pieces (sorry Russell). With fresh breath between them both, the two singers belted out Arthur’s biggest hit to date “In The Sun.” For as amazing as it was to see the two perform together once again, what happened next truly blew my mind.
A moment after inviting vocalist C.C. White to the stage, Arthur glanced in my direction (or at least I would like to think he did). He informed White that his father had watched last week’s performance on the internet and his father felt that perhaps White had held back. It took me a second, but then it sunk in that Joseph Arthur’s father had seen my video on the internet. Talk about an honor. As far as this version of “Heroes” goes, I am glad to report that White took Mr. Arthur’s advice and didn’t hold back at all.
I can’t lie, I love watching the evolution of “I Miss The Zoo.” Intense bursts of poetry over gnarling guitar lines, “Zoo” punches you in the chest with brass knuckles. After a rocking “Slide Away” the duo closed the set with “Lack A Vision.” With loops in place, Arthur finished his latest on stage painting that he began moments before the first note was played. Unlike last week, he returned for an encore. The only song performed solo by Arthur all night was “Honey and the Moon” by request of yet another female fan. The duo closed with “Speed of Light” which started off soft and reserved but slowly built up into a raging end-all-be-all rock and roll machine. Arthur made multiple trips to his amp in order to crank up the volume and send the crowd home with their ears ringing.
Sadly I won’t be able to cover next weeks show at the Bootleg. I had already taken the opportunity to check out Lazarus AD & Death Angel at the Key Club days before Arthur announced his residency, but do not fear. I will be back for the final night, but in the event anyone wants to cover next week for Concert Confessions, please drop us an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I had heard only bad things about Bootleg Theater. Adjacent to downtown Los Angeles, from the lack of parking in an undesirable neighborhood to the venues stale atmosphere my expectations were rather low. Oh, and who can overlook the fact that the name is Bootleg Theater, yet the art of bootlegging is highly frowned upon? I have always told myself that if an artist is worth being stabbed, shot or mugged for, then I would schlep out to Historic Filipino Town for some live music. So with low expectations I headed towards downtown hoping my tombstone would not end up reading “Died at a Joseph Arthur Show in a Shit Part of Town.”
My iPhone lied to me and traffic was much lighter on Interstate 10 then expected. The reward of an early arrival was the “musical” styling of two dudes who never once mentioned the name of their act. No joke, before the first song had finished 4/5th of the room had cleared. It’s not that the duo was bad; I just feel that the crowd was not ready to watch the illegitimate love child of Rainn Wilson and Chris Burke sing folk songs. Let’s be honest, it takes balls to perform a song called “Freebird” that is not the version made famous Lynyrd Skynyrd. Yet these two guys did just that much to the delight of what I must assume is the love interest of half if not the entire band. It would be easy for me to rip these dudes apart for their boring songs, dreadful banter and major lack of stage presence and bodily hygiene. Instead, I will just encourage to duo to continue with you art. Perhaps you will grow as performers even if no one knows who the fuck you are.
The actual announced opener goes by the name of Tom Freund. Prior to Tuesday night, I was not familiar with the singer/songwriter. Unlike the first act, Freund won over the near capacity crowd with his 30 minute set of reflective and hilarious songs. Freund splits his time between acoustic guitar and upright bass and is fierce upon the strings of both instruments. When on bass, his grooves remind me of Les Claypool, which is a compliment in the highest. For about half of his set, Freund welcomed piano virtuoso (and former Joseph Arthur opening act) Chris Joyner to the stage. We all know Joyner commands the keys, but on this particular evening his ivory tickling was minimal and only served to accentuate the music.
The most impressive moment of Freund’s time upon the stage was the set closing “Truly Mellow.” Described as a song about getting high as a teen, Freund asked the crowd to sing along to the final verse. A rare task that not even the likes of Linkin Park can pull off in this town, the crowd willingly sang along with Freund ending a truly magical set on a high note.
Sir Arthur (as dubbed by Freund) hit the stage for the first of four consecutive Tuesday nights at Bootleg just past 10pm. Arthur artistically multi-tasks by performing music while painting on stage. He showcased both gifts right out the gate as he opened the 100 minute set with some paints and “A Smile That Explodes.” My first trip to “Chicago” with Arthur quickly followed as the goose bumps began to take hold upon my flesh. Such a powerful song (aren’t they all?) and to once again be up front and (almost) center with the man is nothing short of inspiring.
With a new full length solo album due out in the spring, Arthur’s set consisted of numerous songs I assume will be on the album. One highlight was a new number that I believe was called “Out on a Limb.” The song is everything you would expect from Arthur; semi-personal lyrics, lush melodies and his trademark guitar loops. A funny moment came right after “Limb” as Arthur attempted to begin “Watch Your Shadows Run.” He completely spaced and forgot how to play the song. After joking and struggling for a few moments, Arthur found the songs correct key and went to town. Many artists would have simply given up and moved onto the next song. Watching Arthur struggle turn into triumph only made my already massive amounts of respect for the man grow.
Arthur welcomed opener Tom Freund to the stage to perform two numbers upon his upright bass. The first was a version of “I Miss the Zoo” that was rather raw compared to previous live versions I have witnessed. Then again, with Arthur informing Freund what chords make up “Zoo” and the following number “Lack A Vision” on stage seconds before performing the songs, a certain raw vulnerability was to be expected. As soon as Freund left, Arthur welcomed a friend from last year’s Stronghold residency to the stage. Armed with the voice of an angel; C.C. White joined Arthur for the nights high point, “All The Old Heroes.” With at least a 14 inch difference in height the two managed to share a mic while also sharing an energy that can’t be put into words. White’s vocal took the place of the guitar solo bringing huge smiles to all in attendance.
For the final few numbers, it appeared Arthur decided to ditch what he wanted to play in order to take some requests. All the songs one would expect to be screamed out were indeed screamed out. I was forced to ponder if the fan who screamed “Freebird” wanted to hear the classic version or the version performed upon the same stage a few hours earlier. While neither version of “Freebird” was played, plenty of fan favorites were. The first was “Echo Park” which worked well as we were gathered together just minutes from the Los Angeles neighborhood of the same name. As always, “Black Lexus” was money in the bank and not just because the song mentions the very city we call home.
It was the final two songs of the night that reminded me why I would venture into a rough neighborhood well past my bedtime on a Tuesday night. I have seen Arthur perform both “Slide Away” and the eventual set closer “You Are Free” numerous times. Each version has managed to stay true to the original recorded version, yet is performed in a unique manner each time. Arthur is a one man jam band, taking his songs into the unknown every time he hits a stage. Don’t believe me, check out YouTube and see for yourself. Better yet, get your ass down to Bootleg Theater the next three Tuesday nights. It was clear from the first night that Arthur is just getting warmed up. I look forward to see what goes down over the next few weeks inside the plywood walls of the Bootleg Theater.
Joseph Arthur Set For Month-Long Los Angeles Residency
According to tweets from his Lonely Astronaut Records (@lonastrorecords) singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur is set to perform a month long residency at the Bootleg Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Arthur will be performing every Tuesday from February 8th through March 1st.
Each of the four tweets will take you to a Facebook RSVP page for each show. As of posting, there is currently no information regarding pre-sale tickets for these shows. Per the Bootleg Theater, tickets will be $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketfly. Arthur will also be showcasing and selling his art duing the four week run at the theater’s backstage area. For more information on these shows, please click here.
Arthur is no stranger to Southern California residencies. Just last spring, Arthur performed a month long residency at the now-defunct “Stronghold” in Venice, CA. Click the below links for reviews of 3/4th of those star-studded shows.
Reverend Justito Presents His Top 5 Concerts of 2010
I have been attending concerts non-stop since 1996. 2010 has been a wonderful year of music. Not that I have the time to keep track of such a statistic, but I do believe that I have seen more shows in 2010 than any other year of my life. It was not easy to narrow down my top five shows from this year, and chances are this list would be different if you asked me to pick in three months. So enough of my mindless introduction; It’s time for my top five shows of 2010.
Truth be told, I made the thirty minute trip to Redondo Beach on a cold Friday night because of Jay Porks. I had forgotten all about Local H, but reading his review got me fired up about a band that I managed to catch at both Kamp Kome gigs back in the 1990’s. The night was what shows are supposed to be all about – letting go of the bullshit and having a great time. From the band allowing a fan to pick a record out of the hat to discovering my favorite new music venue in Southern California the night was just perfect. Most important it has restored my love for Local H who I hope return to the road in 2011.
If you count Fistful of Mercy, I saw Joseph Arthur five times in 2010. I am not exactly sure when Fistful of Mercy formed, but looking back at this show, I was fortunate enough to see the project in it’s early stages. From Arthur opening the night with a haunting version of Restore Me to guest appearances from members of his Lonely Astronauts band and Ben Harper it was a truly inspiring night.
I was fucking angry walking into this show. Bad traffic, poor venue planning and my Giants had just blown an important home game against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS (as you may be aware, things worked out ok for my beloved Giants in 2010). To be honest, I was not even sure why I had agreed to go to the show as the band was over-rated in my eyes. Then the band hit the stage and changed my life. I understand how douchy of a statement that is, but it’s true. The Arcade Fire are that powerful, they suck you in and steal your soul. You can’t stop it no matter how hard you try. It’s very rare that a band can emote a certain feeling inside of me. It’s a feeling that I can’t describe; the nirvana, bliss, floating on a cloud emotion. On October 8th, 2010 the Arcade Fire took an angry Angelino and got him to that place.
When I was a freshman in High School, I found $5 on the ground out front of my school. I ran down to The Record Man and picked up a banged up copy of Angel Dust by Faith No More. It is amazing that the disc will still play today, yet it does. If I had to pick three albums to bring onto a deserted island, this would be one of them. Sadly I was not old enough to drive into San Francisco and see Faith No More on their last hurrah. I made sure I was online with ten minutes to spare to get tickets to this show. I was not going to miss my chance. As luck turned out, I got to see both Faith No More shows here in Hollywood, and it was truly a dream come true. Not a bad moment over two nights, I got to see Faith No More kick all kinds of ass on stage. Between this and the earlier mentioned Giants World Series trophy, let’s just say I can die a lil happier.
Who are we kidding, all three nights at the Greek come in 1/2/3 on this list. I will spoil every top shows list from here till the day I die right now. If I see Phish, there is a 99.8% chance they will be the top live band I see in any given year. Nothing can top Phish. Yet to give some other bands a fair shot, we have picked this as the best Phish show that I witnessed in 2010. This show just dominated and is no doubt in my top three shows of all time. Cities>The Moma Dance>Bathtub Gin>Stealing Time from the Faulty Line just can’t be beat. Unless of course you look to the second set that kicked off with a high energy cover of the Velvet Underground’s Rock and Roll, featured a beefy “Mike’s Groove” and crested with the trampoline stunt during the set closing You Enjoy Myself. I think just about everyone knows I expect some serious West Coast Phish love in 2011, here is hoping the boys don’t break my heart.
Words/Photos by Barney the Purple Dinosaur (and his ghost writer Reverend Justito)
For those who are not a member of my immediate family, allow me to give you a brief history on the family tradition that is Barney the purple dinosaur. I was in my early teens at the height of Barney-mania. As a gag gift, my parents threw a Barney Doll (marching band outfit, filled with bubble mix) into the stockings of my brother and I. My brother and I took great offense to “the purple one” in our Christmas loot, and our anger brought many laughs from the older generation. The next year on Christmas Day, my brother and I each had a very large box. We were instructed to open them last, and after getting through tons and tons of packing peanuts we each discovered that my parents had given us the same Barney once again. I made sure to grab both Barney’s and the following year we got revenge upon my parents. The following year, my brother and I got revenge upon our Aunts as they received packages with the dreaded Dinosaur.
The following year, Barney went to the next level. Actually, he went to Portland, Las Vegas and Chicago and was passed along with a hilarious photo album. Since that time, Barney dolls have gone onto such locations as Yosemite, Japan, Bosnia, London and Tom Jones house. While one of the two dolls has “gone missing” Phishing Barney came into play in 1998. Barney had returned to Portland and witnessed a Phish concert so grand that the band released it on compact disc. As part of the gift, a tiny Barney with full fishing attire was presented with the photo album. In 2009, Phishing Barney gave his family live updates from Festival 8 with Phish. Having caught the bug, below you will find what Barney did in 2010 as an assistant to Concert Confessions founder & spiritual guru Reverend Justito. Thank you for checking this article out and sharing in my families holiday tradition. I hope it brings you as much joy as it brings the seven of us on Christmas Day.
The goal was simple. Take a bunch of Barney photos with celebs here in Los Angeles. Then it occurred to me that I don’t want to be that guy. When you see Marsha Cross eating lunch with her family, the last thing the Desperate Housewife needs is me bugging her for a photo with Barney. So after a conversation with the fine folks in Whitechapel, the plan changed from Barney with celebs to Barney rocking out with some of the best live acts of 2011.
The first artist Barney met was Joseph Arthur. I apologize to Mr. Arthur that the photo came out so poorly.
In June, Barney cruised up the coast to Ventura. There he spent the day at the Vans Warped Tour. It was on this day that Whitechapel just suggested he take a photo with them on stage.
As you know, we got busted by a YouTube user in the act.
The highlight of the day was Barney meeting the lead singer of Angry Samoans – Metal Mike. A fan for 15+ years, it was a dream come true.
A few weeks later, Barney hit up the Cool Tour. While it may have had a terrible name, the package tour had some great bands. That day, Barney rocked hard with…
The Acacia Strain
Between the Buried and Me
As I Lay Dying
Barney tried real hard to get a photo pass for Phish. He was denied, but that didn’t stop him and his pal Cookie Monster from rocking out for three days at the Greek with his favorite band.
A few weeks later, Barney was handed a photo pass for another favorite act – Coheed and Cambria. Sadly at the Wiltern, the photo pit is 25 feet from the stage. So ummmmm maybe next time Claudio.
In October, Barney hit Amoeba to check out an in store with Alain Johannes. Not only did he get to watch the man perform songs from his debut album, but he got to meet him as well.
As an added bonus, Barney ran into his old friend – comedian Steve Agee.
Shortly after Halloween, Barney snuck into the Key Club where he watched Helmet close out their lengthy North American tour. Barney and Helmet main man Page Hamilton were able to discuss how disgusted they were with the 49ers after the show.
Barney’s magical tour of 2010 ended on a high note. Sold out in under an hour; Phishing Barney snuck on stage with Mike Gordon of Phish at the intimate Troubadour.
All in all, 2010 was a great year for Barney. Who knows what 2011 has in store?!?!?!
Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
The entire process of getting into the first of three sold out shows for Fistful of Mercy at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery could be a post on its own. So instead of wasting three paragraphs allow me to thank Steve, Melina and the World Champion San Francisco Giants for not only a wonderful evening, but easily one of my top three shows of 2010. Fact is that as I write this, I have not fully processed what I experienced inside the historic cemetery’s Masonic Lodge last night. The show was so hauntingly beautiful, perhaps I never will.
Before we discuss the music, it is important to discuss the venue. This was my first trip to the Masonic Lodge, and I hope it is not my last. The old hall is painted blood red and lined with one-sheets from classic Hollywood films. With a small stage below the peaked roof, artists must walk through the crowd to take the stage. With an already eager crowd going nuts as the hanging chandeliers dimmed, the foursomes walk through the hall sent the 200+ individuals in the crowd into overdrive.
Made up of Joseph Arthur, Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison (with Jessy Greene on Violin) the group got the first of two shows on this particular evening underway with “I Don’t Want To Waste Your Time.” With cameras clicking and glasses clinking, the room took on a whole new energy as the collective conscious realized just how lucky we were to see the powerful band in such a delicate venue.
I am a bit embarrassed to admit that it took me a few songs to realize why Fistful of Mercy was performing in this location. As a huge fan of Joseph Arthur, I should have realized that with his lyrical emphasis on spirits Hollywood Forever was a highly appropriate location. In fact Arthur and Harper discussed the “floating” spirits who were amongst us all night. Hell, one could argue that songs like “As I Call You Down” managed to take on new meanings due in part to the shows location.
While set mainly consisted of material from the trio’s debut record, however each individual performed a sample of their solo work. While I do not know the name of the Harrison number, he did dedicate it to a couple somewhere in the crowd who are about to welcome a baby girl into the world. Following a long-winded (a theme for the night) yet hilarious story about days of touring in a van by Harper, Arthur lead to group through a spot-on take of his hit “In The Sun.” However, the highlight of the night was Ben Harper performing an emotionally charged version of “Please Me Like You Want To.” While TMZ can tell you all the latest on Harper’s personal life, watching the man perform this song in this city and this moment in time – words simply can’t express the emotions within that moment. The Harper led Fistful of Mercy original “Restore Me” followed as an exclamation mark to the “Please Me.”
With a heavy musical mood all night, the group loosened things up with “Things Go ‘Round.” The song featured Harrison on piano, Harper on Bass and Arthur on a tiny drum kit. As was prevalent all night, you could see that the band that formed 10 short months ago was having an absolute blast. Other late set highlights included the song “Fistful of Mercy” and “Father’s Son.”
With the band exiting the stage and the lights coming back up, I had assumed the show was over. As soon as the lights went back down, the crowd noise doubled in decibel level as we all realized the band would return. We were treated to a two song encore that kicked off with an emotionally charged cover of the Velvet Underground classic “Pale Blue Eyes.” After one final round of lengthy-yet-hilarious stage banter, the early show ended with “With Whom You Belong.” As proof to how powerful the performance was, the band actually managed to get the entire crowd to join in a sing along at the end of the song. As anyone who has ever attended a concert in Los Angeles is well aware, this is no easy task. It really was the perfect ending to an amazing show. Fingers crossed we see future US dates for Fistful of Mercy, as this is one band you can’t afford to miss out on.
Fistful of Mercy Team With Tom Morello To Rock Conan
Our founder and spiritual guru Reverend Justito wrote a recap of Fistful of Mercy’s appearance on the late night TBS talk show Conan earlier today for the fine folks at Antiquiet who would never, ever in a trillion years allow him to write such a tacky and horrific run on sentence such as the one you are about to finish reading right about ummmmmmmmm now. With Tom Morello in tow, the posse of guitar slinging gang-stars rocked the gingers Warner Bros. Studio sound stage. You can read his complete recap and watch the performance by clicking here.
You have to check this out. As some of you may know, Joseph Arthur,Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison (honorable mention to the lovely Jessy Greene on violin) have formed a brand spankin’ new band called Fistful of Mercy. The band performed their first “gig” last night at Easy Street Records in Seattle (fine store I may add) and let’s just say things got a bit out of control. How out of control you ask? Check out this post by West Seattle Blog to witness Joseph, Ben and Dhani stop rush hour traffic.
OK fine, so Rock it Out! Blog and Antiquiet beat us on posting this, but ConcertConfessions favorite Joseph Arthur (along with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison) have formed a brand new band called Fistful of Mercy. They have posted a vimeo video for a track that shares a name with the band that you can view below. The trio’s debut album is due October 5th and rumor has it a tour shall follow (see you there).
Joseph Arthur & The Fairy-Moans (w/ Chris Joyner) 04/23/10
The Stronghold – Venice, CA
Words/Photos/Videos by concertconfessions.com
To say my life has been flipped upside down this week would be a colossal understatement. With my mind somewhere far away, I stood against the brick building that is The Stronghold unaware that Joseph Arthur was about to invade my personal thoughts and help sooth some very mixed emotions. Standing outside on yet another chilly spring night, the entertainment started long before the doors opened. Patron after patron approached the door trying to get into the venue with no success. Each time, the door man would turn them away, and each time the same conversation would occur:
Patron (with a very confident look upon their face): But, but I’m on the guest list.
Door man: That’s nice, so are the other 150 people in line
Patron: So, I have to line up?
Door man: You got it.
Based off the simple natured fans, I assumed that Chris Joyner would be some kind of Jack Johnson laid back three chord surfer bum that drives the ladies/Asian-Americans crazy. When the doors opened about 10 minutes late, many fans were in a panic that they were about to miss Joyner. Not worried at all, I walked up the stairs and to my delight discovered that the couches from the first week (as well as a lazy boy chair) had returned to the front of the stage. I plopped down in the lazy boy (since I was once again flying solo) and watched Joyner panic that his large fan base would not make it in before he was scheduled to start. By the time the music did get underway (after apologies from Joyner for the wait) I got the panic within seconds.
Holy smokes – of all the opening acts I have seen over the past few weeks – Chris Joyner was hands down the best. Not that other acts were bad, but they can’t even compete with Joyner. Backed by a bassist, guitarist and some dude beating on a box, for approximately 30 minutes Joyner lead his band through a set of Wurlitzer fueled funk/soul/hippie jams. The secret weapon in this musical outlet is clearly guitarist JinSoo Lim. A mix of Duane Allman and Trey Anastasio, the modest player laid down epic solo after epic solo much to the delight of all in attendance. I could listen to that man play all day and never get sick of his licks, and the kicker is that he does it straight faced with great ease. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Joyner’s set (besides the music) was how quiet his fans were. For those who have read my reviews or seen any of my videos the past few weeks – you know The Stronghold is a chatty venue. During Joyner’s set – you could hear a pin drop. Nothing but respect from his fans, which now includes me amongst their ranks.
After a fairly quick set change (considering how much equipment had to me moved) Joseph and his mad mob of musicians took to the stage for a “sound-check.” After a quick warm up jam, Arthur (who was a total chatter box all night – unlike I have ever seen him be) addressed the crowd:
Are you the light? Are you guys inspiration personified? Magic and glowing before us all? That’s what we inspire to be for you.
Understatement of the residency here. It’s hard not to be inspired to live life a little harder after watching Arthur do what he does. Still “sound-checking” Arthur and friends launched into a soft song that I was unfamiliar with (it is unreleased and it the tentative title is “This Is Still My World” per twitter user @_benzo). It was absolutly beautiful and got my mind right back on the same thoughts that have now haunted it for nearly a week (or is it four years?). I will be honest, I always sucked at analyzing books or lyrics or whatever. I tend to just take little snippets and relate to my day. While “You Are Free” probably has nothing to do with what I had on my mind, I’m no longer who I was – no longer who I thought I was sure as hell haunted my mind.
If Arthur’s performance the prior week was a bit of a technical train wreck, this week felt as if the band had been on tour for three years. “Vacancy” was a real spaced out deep sea kind of affair that comforted my chemical confusion. Kicked off with only Arthur on acoustic guitar “Famous Friends From The Coast” built up into a huge roots-rocking romp that was rich with melody. Taking an accordion break on the couch to my left, Arthur joked that he was singing “Even Tho” for Rami Jaffee. The song morphed into a slow sustained kind of jam that slowly grew in speed as Arthur lead with a sitar-sounding solo. I swear at one point guitarist Joel Shearer threw in some “Shakedown Street” teases during the disgustingly sick jam.
Much to my shock, Arthur announced that his new band would be going on summer tour with Phish (of course this was when I had my camera turned off – FAIL). The band discussed briefly the name Phish and debated if they could legally use it as part of their name. I am going to assume coincidence that Arthur then talked about David Bowie as his hilarious introduction to “All The Old Heroes”. Yet what happened next made me realize that Arthur could probably win over a Phish crowd. “Black Lexus” became a massive bonnaroo-caliber hippie jam. If I had to guess, I would say it went 10-12 minutes long. Between Phish 3D and this show, I have done my fair share of noodle dancing via chair this week.
Before taking some fan requests, Arthur announced his backing bands name. It’s best that I let him explain:
More hilarious stage banter preceded the first request – “Birthday Card.” Fairy Moans did not allow the fact they didn’t know the song to stop them from creating perhaps the hardest rocking balls to the wall version of the song to date. A bit later, Joseph passed his guitar to backing vocalist Sibyl Buck who then nervously lead the band through a song. Keeping up with the requests, the sound-check (as mentioned by drummer Brendan Buckley) carried on with an electrified version of “Slide Away.”
It was about 12:40 AM Saturday when the sound-check finally ended. Someone from the crowd screamed for a keyboard solo and Jaffee was happy to begin to play a clunky chord progression. Very soon, Arthur jumped in, singing/talking sporadic lines over the almost toy piano melodies. The song – “A Pig In The Mouth of China” eventually a psychotic/psychedelic romp that would make Pink Floyd and the Flaming Lips proud. It was pure genius, and well worth the 35 song sound-check.
The night finally wrapped with “Running Out of Time/I Love You – Thanks For Coming Out.” I have added the second title because Arthur sang a new song focused around that line within the existing song (battery died by this point so sadly no video). On a night where he played with my emotions, teased me with my favorite band to my face, stole my jokes and rocked my stinking socks off – the man is now singing “I Love You – Thanks For Coming Out”. Imagine that. Those words, if he only knew. While I appreciate the thanks, really anyone who made it into The Stronghold the last month should be thanking Joseph Arthur. I saw three totally different shows, all special, all unique and all amazing. With just a few days left before May, April 2010 has been one for the record books for me. When I grow old and look back to this point in life, Joseph Arthur will always be the soundtrack.
While most Southern California music fans flocked to the desert for Coachella, I mooched yet another ride to Venice off my wonderful wife. Sure, it would be fun to see the likes of DJ Lance Rock and Jay-Z amongst the lush green polo fields and towering palm trees; but when it comes to Friday nights in April there is no place I would rather be then The Stronghold. With it being the third week of a month long residency, I just had to see what the amazing Joseph Arthur would pull out of his sleeve. While expectations were high, I found myself watching a set that was nothing short of a train-wreck. Perhaps this sounds bad to the common reader, which is all the more reason I encourage you to go out and buy the mans entire catalogue. After all, when life gives Joseph Arthur lemons, he will take those lemons, make a bike helmet out of the peels, plant the seeds out back to grow new trees and of course make a damn tasty pitcher of lemonade.
Despite showing up much later than the previous week, I was once again the front of the line (which was fine, as I was able to hear a sound-check that included “Black Lexus“). After a nice conversation about drying Iphones that have gone swimming in toilets, the very kind doorman let me up into the venue. Much to my shock, the wonderful couches from the week before were moved back against the walls instead of being right in front of the stage. I ended up sitting on the back couch watching as the few hipsters left in Los Angeles County began to fill the room. Within 15 minutes of doors being opened, it was time for the first musical guest of the night.
The Dough Rollers
I really thought the two men on stage said there name was the Dough Boys (The Dough Rollers). I have looked all over the Internet trying to find something about these two, but have failed. Shame too, as the duo was very entertaining. Nothing more than two white guys in nice suits channeling dead delta blues-men. At first I felt as if it was a tad cheesy and forced, but after about song two or three, I realized these two were the read deal. With covers (and perhaps originals, I am not sure) such as “Move To Alabama” and “Railroad Blues” these two truly felt natural playing the gospel-tinged blues. I would be very excited to see them again.
After a quick set change, a female with a guitar hoped up on stage. Introduced only as Penelope, the shy song bird was joined by both Rami Jaffee and Jenny Greene (who had sat in with Aurthur the week before). I don’t see how anyone could not instantly fall in love with Penelope. I mean heck, it’s not everyday you get to have a beautiful French woman sing you love songs in her native tongue. Knowing that I can hardly speak English, sadly I don’t know any of the song titles (let alone spell them). I will say that with a powerful voice and solid guitar technique, the entire crowd at The Stronghold were robbed that she was only had time to perform three songs.
Joseph Arthur & Friends
Guitar: Joel Shearer
Drums: Brendan Buckley
Bass: Jonny Polonsky
Violin: Jessy Greene
Keyboard: Rami Jaffee
Vocals: C.C. White & Sibyl Buck
When I walked into the intimate venue, I noticed a lot more equipment up on stage then the week prior. I had assumed that it was for an opening act, but when Penelope had announced that Joseph Arthur was up next it became clear that we would indeed be guided on a very different musical journey. While the venues sound-man does assist in helping set up, the musicians serve as their own roadies. As the seven musicians were getting ready to begin, it became clear gremlins were already present within the tangled web of patch chords and power supplies that make up Arthurs massive pedal board. Once the issue appeared to be solved, Arthur lead his friends (which included Rami Jaffee, Jessy Greene, Sibyl Buck in addition to some local musicians assembled by Jaffee) into the unknown with the powerful “Tattoo.”
Before Arthur was able to begin the third song of the night – “Slide Away” a lengthy delay occurred as a result of the earlier mentioned gremlins. A frustrated Arthur pulled chords out and replaced, hit buttons and unplugged/replugged power sources before finally discovering a faulty effects processor. When he was finally able to perform “Slide Away” Arthur invited a young woman from the audience up on stage (Update 06/30/11 – C.C. White is the vocalist) who added a soulful vocal jam towards the end of the song. The singer managed to breathe new life into the song, creating a very unique moment that I am thankful I was able to witness.
Early in the set, I began to wonder if perhaps Arthur had added a backing band that included bass, drums, guitar and Jaffee ditching his accordion for a keyboard to drown out the constant chatter that had occurred over the two previous Friday nights. With almost every light in the venue powered down in addition to further sound issues, the over all mood of the night was very tenebrous. Select, darker lines from songs like “Honey and the Moon” and “Faith” sent my mind into places I really didn’t expect it to go. When you mix this with musicians who very well may not have all known each other the last time Arthur graced the tiny Venice, CA stage – you had a very almost punk rock feel. You found yourself rooting for the musicians, always pondering if they would make it through a song, or if it would blow up in their faces. The fact that it was so raw and rough around the edges made it feel Sunset Strip dangerous.
After a rocking jammed out version of “September Baby” Arthur left the stage and introduced a singer named Harper Simon (who according to Wikipedia is the son of Paul Simon). Dressed in a plaid shirt, the singer performed two songs. While I was not familiar with the first, the second number was a cover of The Buzzcocks classic Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)? It took me a minute before I recognized the song, and once the familiarity sank in my smile grew almost as large as the smile Simon was wearing the entire time he was on stage.
Once again, Arthur used the set to create a song on the spot (once again, I assume). Not aware of the title, I am calling it “I Miss The Zoo”. After creating a spacey solo over slightly delayed loops, Arthur sang lyrics confessing missing days of addiction. Dark, depressing yet totally unique and absolutely powerful, this random act of art in the dark lit room ended up the no doubt about it highlight of Friday night.
Keeping his word from the week before that additional special guests would be welcomed – Arthur invited American songwriter, singer, musician, performer and composer for film, dance and theater (thanks Wikipedia) artist David Poe to the stage. Poe lead the band through a boogie-licious blues stomp called “Joy”. While I am unfamiliar with the song, it was perhaps the most upbeat moment of the night.
The night wrapped up soon after with Arthur building his loops for “Lack A Vision.” Once completed (and after knocking over his mic stand – some nights you just can’t win) Arthur brought his easel onto the very packed stage to finish his painting (which featured the names of the various musicians who had shared the stage). Blowing through his harmonica and singing into the mic, Arthur doodled, painted over existing lines and finished a painting unlike any other of his I had seen. Much like the music, the work seemed jagged, unsure of what it wanted to be. What struck me the most was not giving up. Arthur and his friends fought on all night, and while often frustrated, the art never suffered. The struggle created beauty that would have never been found if this was a solo acoustic show. What made the night so magical was watching these musicians discover each other. Often you could watch one musician squint across the dark stage to confirm they were indeed playing the same chords. I recently heard a friend say about his child that you can not learn to walk without a few bumps from falling down. This perfectly sums up week three of Joseph Arthur’s residency – and I can not wait to see what’s in store for our final Friday together.
Joseph Arthur & Friends (w/ MK & the Gentlemen & “Juan” Y) 04/09/10
The Stronghold – Venice, CA
words/photos/videos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
Updated 06/28/11: The channel that hosted nearly 700 videos for Concert Confessions was removed from YouTube earlier this month. In re-uploading these videos, I discovered a video of “Juan.” As it turns out, “Juan” is actually “Y”. For those who have read my 2011 reviews of Joseph (which you can read here, here, here and here) you know it took me weeks to figure out his name. Originally, I did not upload the video of Y performing on April 9th (since I didn’t have a song title or proper name) but it has been included in this updated review. We hope you enjoy.
Over the months after myfirst Joseph Arthur show, I was angry. In the months since my second Joseph Arthur show, I have become geeky fan boy obsessed. I have hit both indie and big chain record stores filling the gaps in my compact disc (yes I still buy those) collection. I printed out some guitar tabs and began the process of learning how to personally butcher the music that I love so much. Most of all, I sat around dreaming about how I will get my next fix of the man live and in person. Much to my shock and delight, that chance not only came less than three months from the mind shattering Troubadour shows, but in the form of a month long residency less than five miles from home. While I was unable to make the first show due to a prior showcommitment, I squealed like a pig in mud when I saw that the final three shows were clear on my calendar. So with the work week in the rear view, I headed south to Venice on the second Friday in April eager to get a much needed fix of Joseph Arthur. Unknown to me, I was in for quite the fix as strange things are afoot at The Stronghold in Venice, CA.
Having no idea as to the start time, I showed up around 8:30pm. Clearly this was way too early so I walked up and down Abbot-Kinney debating which food truck to eat dinner at. After making my choice, I headed back and decided I would form the line while chowing down. At a time, I was a bit disappointed with myself. After all, I rushed out the door like a mad man to get down to the venue, only to have nothing to do for an hour but stuff my face with warm sushi and run down the battery on my iphone. The doors for the venue above a vintage clothing store finally opened about 9:45pm, and after making a $15 dollar donation I headed up the old wooden staircase. I was surprised to see that the venue was nothing more than a glorified loft with a tiny stage and two big brown leather couches nailed into the hard wood floors. It took me a second, but then a large smile slowly spread across my face. I made a b-line to the stage left couch and plopped down right in front of the mic stand (or as I discovered the best friggin seat in the house). I quickly made friends with two very intoxicated blondes who sat down next to me around the same time. Now that seat guarding was in place, I headed to the drink area, where I made a $10 donation for two cans of Turtle Piss Mexican Beer (thankfully, the party later upgraded to chilled cans of Tecate and Tecate Light).
As the loft began to fill, a band out of Venice called MK & The Gentlemen took the stage. Even if the music had sucked, I would encourage every straight single male within a 30 mile zone of any and all shows to check this band out. While I doubt I am the first to come up with the term TunaFest, it sure as hell sums up the crowd. As far as the music goes, it’s what you would expect from four dudes out of Venice. Laid back slow melody rich beach jams very similar to Jack Johnson. However, while it is easy to compare based off the overall sound, MK & The Gentlemen blow Jack Johnson away on a technical level. Within those laid back grooves are short and sudden bursts of almost hippie-esque noodle goodness. In fact, vocally the bands front man (MK I assume) reminded me a lot of Chuck Garvey from moe. While not my favorite style of music, MK & the Gentlemen really left a lasting impression, and not just because a large number of women in the crowd were moving and shaking across the dance floor. Jack Johnson is great in short bursts, but after 15 minutes it feels like the same song over and over which of course leaves to boredom. MK manage to mix it up from number to number without ever leaving their comfort zone. A middle eastern flavored song here, a heavy tribal grove there, I was entertained and even a little disappointed when they were told they only had time for one more. If you’re a fan of the O.A.R. Donovan FrankenCitizenCope surf bum prep hippie light jam acoustic bongo noodle rock sound (and I know some of you are) then MK & The Gentlemen are for you.
As beach dwelling hippies and/or hipsters sipped mixed drinks out of large Dixie paper cups, I took a moment to really soak in my surroundings. This wasn’t a show this was more of a party at some strangers house. Hell, there was a dog running around, you don’t see that shit at Club Nokia that’s for damn sure. It felt like the cops could bust in at any moment, and when not focused on the Christmas lights covering the spiral staircase behind the scare I was pondering if the old brick building could survive The Big One. Then there was the door with the sign that said “Artists Only” which had everyone and anyone walking in and out of it. Obsessive stalker fan boy took over as I had the perfect view of Arthur sitting on a couch getting ready to hit the stage. When he finally hit the stage it really hit me; I am about to watch Joseph Arthur rock someones living room.
Joined by Jessy Greene on violin and Rami Jaffee on accordion, Arthur kicked off the second night of his residency with “I Donated Myself To The Mexican Army.” I instantly wondered if perhaps it was an ode to the night’s beer stash? Towering above me, the lanky Arthur’s sang into the mic eyes closed focused only on the music. As party goers chatted at the same volume as the sounds coming from the tiny plywood stage, Arthur and company carried on. “September Baby” is one of the songs that has been on repeat in my mind since January, so I was thrilled when it made an early appearance. The few hipsters who made it out from Echo Park were equally as excited to hear a song named after their home town.
Still having a few gaps in my collection, Arthur played a lot of material I was unfamiliar with. Perhaps there were some new songs in there, I am not really sure. One song it almost appeared made up on the spot. After creating another trademark loop with his guitar, Arthur ripped some pages out of a notebook and began reading what seemed to be a poem. While both shows had a rabid fan base, this is something that would have never worked at The Troubadour, but was perfect for The Stronghold. It was also around this time that Arthur switched from acoustic to electric and the show went to a whole new level. While I can appreciate all of his music, I have always been drawn to the crazy riffs and loops that he creates. While he had used a Telecaster back in January, Arthur never really maximized it’s potential. I am unable to name what kind of guitar he had on this particular night, but with an unusually high amount of knobs and switches I can tell you that it was anything but ordinary. I had never realized just how hard Arthur can shred. Bending string and slamming down on a whammy bar, Arthur can really tear it up as a lead guitarist. In fact I am hard pressed to find anything this man can’t do?
As one of those assholes who lives on their cellphone, I noticed that fellow LA blogger/twitter palRock Is A Girl’s Best Friend was in the crowd and shared a pic. Low and behold she was standing right behind me. I quickly introduced myself between songs (as we had yet to actually meet in person), and sunk back into the coach around the time that Arthur brought out fellow Ohio rocker Greg Dulli (The Twilight Singers, The Afghan Whigs, The Gutter Twins). I have to assume the invite from Arthur was on the spot, as Dulli appeared hesitant in joining the fun. After discussing who would take the high road and who would take the low road vocally, the two voices blended together on “Take Me Home”. As Arthur began to finger pick out the opening notes on his guitar, Dulli clenched his can of beer, took a deep breath and eased right into the quiet number. A few songs later, Arthur was joined by local singer/songwriter Queen Kwong. A much bigger enthusiast of cats than myself, Kwong (real name Carré Callaway) encouraged the packed room to hush before she shared her soft song “Black Heart.” While I had mixed feelings about her performance last fall opening for Nine Inch Nails, on this particular night Kwong really sucked me into her world. Singing about breaking hearts, the tiny Kwong strummed an acoustic guitar with a body much larger than hers. You could really feel the vulnerability within the performance, and I must wonder if perhaps Kwong is better suited as a delicate singer songwriter vs. electric rocker grrrrrrrl?
With all the guests up on stage, it was an actress who made the biggest impression on my night. Out of nowhere appeared Emmy Award nominee Rosanna Arquette. Taking a seat on the floor in front of the stage towards the end of the set, Arquette managed to convice Arthur to play another song I am currently obsessed with “Redemption Son.” With the same acoustic used by Kwong now looking small on him, Arthur applied his capo and dove right in. With eyes closed Arthur begged for forgiveness into the mic and produced huge glowing smiles on the faces of both myself and Courtney Cox’s sister-in-law.
Dressed like a mix of Yoko Ono era John Lennon and Hunter S. Thompson, Arthur towards the end of the set allowed Greene to take center stage and lead the band for a song. It would be only minutes later that Arthur would end up closing his set with “Crying Like A Man.” Setting up another loop, Arthur put down his guitar and finished a painting which he started moments before the first notes rang from the stage. It was at this point that for the first time Greene, Jaffee and a fourth musician (who based off my observation may be an employee of the venue who helps as a stage hand etc) overpowered the music instead of complimenting it. As soon as Arthur completed the panting, he wished the crowd goodnight, leaving the others to provide a backdrop of melody before slowly exiting one by one. As soon as folks realized there would be no encore they slowly began to exit the loft. Despite a bladder full of canned Mexican goodness I was not ready to get up. I watched as various individuals raced to set up the stage for the next act, but really my mind needed a few solid moments to process what had just occurred. Here was a man who back in January created the best performance I have seen this decade, and before you can say Memorial Day he has gone and created something 100% different, yet equally as brilliant. While I eventually peeled myself off the couch, I was in no rush to go home. In fact, I ended up watching the entire next set that featured two gentlemen on guitars. Sadly I could never make out their name (I thought it was Juan, and when I confirmed with the singer, he said no, but if I wanted to call him that I could), but with the loft now only holding a handful of people, Arthur beat upon a single drum for most of their set.
With what appeared to be a fusion/reggae band setting up after “Juan” had wrapped up a humor filled set of indie folk songs, I had to tap out. With the rumor of Arthur wrapping up at 3am with a few solo acoustic songs, I really wanted to stay, but was drained from a long week. I convinced myself that this was OK, based off the fact that there is no way in hell I will not be there over the next two Friday night’s. In fact, if you’re game, I personally invite you to join me next Friday night to show up early (yes Los Angeles, I know that’s asking a lot) and help me man the stage left coach. Personally, I am counting down the hours before I can watch Joseph Arthur create an explosion of images and sounds while hardly breaking a sweat.
Words/Photos/Videos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
As I shared here recently as a FROM THE VAULT post, the last time I saw Joseph Arthur, we didn’t really connect. In the weeks and months that passed after that warm summer night, I actually began to get angry. What was wrong with me? I have listened to this man and his music time and time again and I allowed weird vibes and distractions ruin our brief time together. Not permitting my anger to get the best be, I told myself there is always next time. Thankfully, next time came in the form of concertconfessions user HJUnderpants birthday celebration. After a tasty meal at Barney’s Beanery up the road, we entered The Troubadour on a cold winter night to once again experience the music of singer/songwriter Mr. Joseph Arthur.
Right off the bat, things were better than last time. Despite what the venue had informed me of via Twitter, this would not be a seated show. Excited by this discovery we hit the front bar and enjoyed a celebratory birthday drink or four before finding our spot on the open floor. With two blank canvases against the back wall, Arthur hit the stage minutes before 9:30 pm. The multi-talented performer began to paint upon both canvases before strapping on an acoustic guitar and kicking off the music with a soft new song (title unknown, but assumed to be from a rumored 2010 release). What followed was a rocking one man version of “Devil’s Broom” which allowed the musician to throw down a nasty electric guitar solo over percussive and rhythm loops all made by acoustic guitar. By the time Arthur was into his third song “Echo Park”, my wife had whispered into my ear that this time was already 1,000,000 times better than last time and I happened to agree.
Yes indeed with guitar loops bordering on insanity and two paintings being created right before our eyes, the journey was off to an amazing start. Hell, the lanky hipster softly singing fan favorites “Birthday Card” and “Honey and the Moon” into my right ear didn’t bother me as Arthur commanded my focus. Using both looped guitar and vocals as a backdrop, Arthur stopped strumming and returned to his paintings, rapidly adding lines and angles over what appeared to be faces of a man and a woman (I can hardly draw a stick figure, who am I to try to talk brush strokes and angles). Once satisfied with his progress on the paintings, Arthur brought the loops to a screeching crashing yet never missing a beat by diving head first into “All The Old Heroes”. Armed with only a Telecaster and a microphone, the pride of Akron, Ohio stood onstage alone for the final time during this short west coast tour.
Arthur welcomed four guests to the stage. In addition to Jessy Greene on Violin (who had been off and on the stage all night by this point) two members of his Lonely Astronauts backing band (Sibyl Buck on vocals and Kraig Jarret Johnson on Guitar/Vocals) joined in on the fun. Honestly, I don’t think anyone noticed, as roots/jam/soul/reggae/metal/blues/pop/funk/acoustic/indie/rebel/surf/rocker Ben Harper came out along with them. I know my jaw dropped to the clubs cement floor at the chance to see Harper (someone I have seen many times over the years) in such a small venue. The now five piece band launched into “Black Lexus” from Arthur’s 2006 record Nuclear Daydream. Most stunning about this version was Harper’s slide Weissenborn and Green’s violin coming together to create a melodic sound-scape that helped carries Arthur’s intense vocals.
While most musicians soon left the stage (they would come and go as the night carried on) Harper remained on stage to add backing vocals to Arthur’s best known song – “In The Sun”. I didn’t even make it to the chorus before my arms were covered in goosebumps. The vocals of the two blended nicely, and by the time they were done, I saw not one but two separate audience members with tears running down their cheeks. Over the next 45 minutes, the explosion of art continued to engulf senses. Arthur noted on multiple occasions how blessed he was to be playing with his old friend Ben. Harper can shred with the best of them, but on this night he played with great restraint. He found holes and filled them with rich melodies, allowing the focus to stay on the songs, and not the star. I really didn’t think the night could get better but it proved me wrong yet again as the duo performed my favorite song “Ashes Everywhere”.
I lost track of how many encore breaks the night had, but I know the show ended with Arthur completing his paintings during the song “Invisible Hands”. Big blue brush stroked smacked up against the canvas as Arthur sang for Jesus to come back and die again. As the song slowly stretched out at the end, musicians slowly began to leave the stage leaving Harper to finish the song alone.
Moments after his exit, the stage lights came up and we went to the merch table. As we waited in line to purchase the evenings show, the night once again got a little bit better. Arthur performed two more songs to the packed merch area/bar before he spoke with fans, took photos and signed autographs. I tried to keep my moment brief. He helped me with an art project of my own I am working on this year, signed a copy of the show. As we exited out the door and hit chilly Santa Monica Blvd, I couldn’t help but smile knowing that for Joseph Arthur and I the second time was the charm.
(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.