Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Jonathan Richman concert at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia which also happened to be XPN’s concert pick of the week. Going in I sort-of knew what to expect as I had seen Jonathan perform before. Lots of wide-eyed, innocent songs played by the most sincere and endearing man you could ever hope to encounter (see pictures for confirmation). There were songs in at least three languages other than English (Italian, Spanish, French), with lots of personal stories and bits of wisdom peppered throughout.
As with most of his live shows he was accompanied by his long time drummer Tommy Larkins who is pretty impressive in his own right; adding drum solos and allowing Jonathan to lead the crowd in clapping to the beat; playing various small instruments, and at one point, playing just a cowbell.
It’s hard to pick a favorite moment from the night but I’ll have to say the crowd certainly cheered loudest when Jonathan came back for the first encore and played the opening notes to “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar”. After a bit of pleading on the crowd’s part he agreed to one more song. A particularly heart-wrenching version of “Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love” from his 2004 album of the same name. He then graciously thanked the crowd, did a spectacular cartwheel, put on his jacket and was gone. The music was great and everything, but seeing a man with four decades in the music industry do a perfect-form cartwheel was the highlight for me; try that Keith Richards.