Anyone's who had to listen to me report for the gazillionth time how much British music I've devoted myself to knows that I'm not good at mixing genres, but I'm sometimes forced to consider the possibilities. Case in point: Saturday night at Largo, when talk of boy bands and classic rock dominated the conversation, to hilarious effect.
Jon Brion, Largo, February 23, 2008: My neck got a pretty good workout Friday night, but it was just a warmup for Saturday, when the unidentified older gentleman sitting with Sean and Sara Watkins kept us staring at the kitchen entrance for most of the night. On the other hand, we spied Jay Bellerose (who had, apparently, been whisked straight to Largo from the airport, fresh off a plane from Belgium) and Paul Bryan pretty quickly--does that count??
Exhibiting the same good cheer as the night before, Jon handled the first set by himself. Among his own tunes, the builds of "Didn't Think It Would Turn Out Bad" and "Better You Than Me" were spectacular, both exploding in bursts of aggressive guitar, though not in exactly the same way.
The covers ran the gamut from the half-remembered "Nothing from Nothing," the tepid audience singalong for "Care of Cell 44," my generational signifier "Love My Way" (which I always want to request, except I fear it's a total cliche), and the almost unrecognizable "Girl from Ipanema," which Jon drew out from walls of distortion and feedback. Oh, and of course there was the breezy, beloved "More Than This," which got a helping hand from Scott in the soundbooth as well as Jon's own feet, keeping time.
The second set, as it often does, got off to an unassuming start (other than that huge "gotcha" mug sent in our direction, but that's another story) before we realized that taking his place among the favorite Largo faces was John Paul Jones--the bass player for that newly reunited band, Led Zeppelin. (Full disclosure: The two major classic rock bands I'm least familiar with are the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.) He donned a darling Danelectro (alas, stealing Paul Bryan's spot in the process) and melted right into the group.
The collection of players--Jon, Jay, Benmont, Sara, and Sean--are no strangers to one another, and I've seen them both rip the roof off the joint and share more inside jokes than a pack of mean girls. Tonight, though, they proceeded rather gingerly through a set, slightly on the short side, of mostly familiar songs, and though their mutual respect was, as always, intact, they showed more reserve than usual. I suspect that they were taking it easy on the new guy making his Largo debut; it also sort of explains why they solicited no requests either. As our table's giddy interloper remarked, a Monkees tune might indeed have blown Mr. Jones's mind.
In all, Benmont's Ramones campaign proceeded apace (this time, he took the acoustic guitar), and Sean turned out a tune I hadn't heard from him before, but Jon--surprise, surprise--came up with the best moments of the second set. His directions to Jay to "make it dirty" and the sustained scream alone on "Slow Down" would've been a memorable enough imprint of the night, but he followed it up with the chiming, enveloping "Positively 4th Street." As we left a little after 1 a.m., both happy customers, we wondered aloud if the night's real concert was yet to take place behind closed doors.
--Someone Else's Problem Now
--Excuse to Cry
--Didn't Think It Would Turn Out Bad
--Trial & Error
--Nothing from Nothing
--Care of Cell 44
--Better You Than Me
--Love My Way [Les Paul]
--Girl from Ipanema
--Walking Through Walls
--More Than This
--I Believe She's Lying
with Jay Bellerose, John Paul Jones, Benmont Tench, Sara Watkins, and Sean Watkins
--More Pretty Girls than One [Sean]
--Write Myself a Letter [Sean]
--I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend [Benmont]
--My Baby Left Me [Jon]
--Freight Train [Sara]
--Slow Down [Jon]
--I Wanna Be Sedated [Benmont]
--Positively 4th Street [Jon]
--Paper Moon [Jon]
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