For the last night of his four-night residency at the Make-Out Room, Jonathan Richman wasted no time perfecting THE SOUND. He asked politely and waited patiently for the giant fan to be turned off. It might mean heat stroke, even death, but he wanted THE SOUND to be perfect…and so it was.
It was super fucking hot in the Make-Out Room, but when JoJo played a reconfigured version of “Old World,” no one was complaining. He strummed those chords better than I’ve ever heard those chords strummed (at least since the song’s birth on the seminal The Modern Lovers LP in 1972). He made “Old World” older. He took us back to corsets and cumberbuns. From that same mind-blow record, he also pulled out a “Girlfriend” sing-a-long making it clear that his first explorations of art museums were less about art and more about finding a G-I-R-L-F-R-E-N. The other sing-a-long highlight came with a deconstructed version of The Maytals’ “Pressure Drop.” With little effort, Jonathan brought the masterpiece to life, perhaps alluding to The Modern Lovers’ fateful trip to Bermuda in 1973 where Jonathan heard the island musicians and experienced an epiphany, thereafter letting go of the Velvet Underground’s chains, moving from the “Hospital” and towards the “Ice Cream Man.”
In the short, sweet set, Jonathan sang in English, sure, but also French, Italian, Spanish (“La Fiesta es Para Todos”) and Hebrew (something about bbq). He paid tribute to “Keith Richards” and Paris (“Give Paris One More Chance” from 2001’s Her Mystery Not of High Heels & Eye Shadow). He put down his guitar and danced…repeatedly. Despite (or because of) their 20-year relationship, Tommy Larkins drummed his heart out but never cracked a smile. They completed the evening with “As My Mother Lay Lying,” a tearjerker about sitting at his mother’s deathbed in the nursing home (from 2008’s Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild).
Excuse my camera phone, I had no intention of writing up this show. It had to be done. The photo above is the one, the only Jonathan Richman at our very own, very awesome, very hot Make-Out Room on his fourth and final night. Until he returns. Soon! All hail JoJo!