Though we knew this was no longer, in fact, Largo's Last Stand, we could hear the rumblings of the club's coda approaching. However, I'd say that those of us who've loved Largo for all these years required no attitude adjustment going into these shows; we've always known that every moment at this club, especially the Friday nights with Jon Brion, should be savored.
Jon Brion, Largo, April 26, 2008: Jon started off per normal, slamming down on the keys-based implements before punching out a moody piano piece that eventually led to "Trouble" (the song, of course, not the situation). His second song, though, offered the first glimpse of the closure we were all seeking; leave it to Ray Davies to have penned the words so fitting for the situation.
From there, he mixed up his own songs with covers before asking for requests. "Casanova" jumped off my tongue before I realized, and Jon hit a couple of lines before abandoning it for an "extremely edited" track off the same album (Roxy Music's Country Life, in case you're wondering). Taking us from Bryan to Brian, Brion rounded out the rock block with some Eno, thus heading off the inevitable showdown between Roxy Music purists.
For "I Believe She's Lying," he pulled off one of those WTF Jon Brion feats, playing guitar and piano at the same time. And for Nilsson's "One," he asked us to supply the vocals, which we did grandly, though maybe our harmonies fell somewhat short of the dreamy mix that characterizes the original composition.
For me, the next major moment in the set came when, after another sequence of his own songs and a cover or two, Jon built up "Happy with You." We noted the Les Paul-style fingerpicking on the bridge, as well as the bird he flipped at the guitar pickups, but there was also Jon's comment on taking his time with the song, as it would probably be the last night he did it at this particular Largo. I can't wait to see the new place, but it's still a bit jarring to hear about The End from the performers themselves.
Jon closed with "Waterloo Sunset," a song he's done often, but it took on a different light in the shadow of Largo's impending move. It remained, however, as gorgeous as always.
The second set began with Cole Porter in what may have been another parting shot to the old space before Benmont Tench and Fiona Apple were called to the stage. They weaved through a set of familiar standards; of those titles, Flanny's request for "Blue Skies" was probably the highlight, as it inspired a magical run by Benmont. Jon himself yelled, "More!" at Largo's favorite piano player.
Sebastian Steinberg joined them for a Bill Withers song, which turned out to be an absolutely essential segment of the set if only for the exchange between Jon and the audience that led to a fan's response to the question of whether Bill is still alive: "He's still With-Ers." Har har har.
Back on the musical side, however, Fiona and Ben ended up taking the first and second verses, respectively, of the song. Benmont came to the rescue once again a couple of songs later, though this time with an effervescent piano solo, on "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me."
Sara and Sean Watkins had now arrived, and there was more pow to be wowed as they mentally rifled through their repertoire. They landed on a gem: Gillian Welch's "I Want to Sing That Rock 'n' Roll," featuring the two ladies. I'm not always a fan of female singers, but there was no denying that Fiona and Sara are a formidable team when sharing a microphone.
Fiona disappeared for the next several songs, which comprised tracks from the Watkinses' usual grab bag and some surprises too. Jon, in fact, had to ask them the title of one tune, though he had just played along to it. Fiona, however, returned to lend her voice to the last couple of numbers, bringing us one step closer to the Last Friday (For Real This Time!) at Largo.
--This Is Where I Belong
--It Looks Like You
--Walking Through Walls
--Please Stay Away from Me
--A Really Good Time
--Some of Them Are Old
--I Believe She's Lying
--Stop the World
--I Fall in Love Too Easily
--Knock Yourself Out
--Eternal Sunshine theme
--Happy with You
--Every Time We Say Goodbye
--You Belong to Me [Fiona] *
--I'm Beginning to See the Light [Fiona] *
--Don't Get Around Much Anymore [Fiona] *
--Blue Skies [Fiona] *
--Ain't No Sunshine [Fiona and Benmont] **
--Crazy [Fiona] **
--Everyday [Fiona] **
--Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me [Fiona] **
--I Want to Sing That Rock 'n' Roll [Fiona and Sara] ***
--I Want You Back [Sara] ****
--I Go to Sleep [Sara] ****
--Too Much Beer and Wine (?) [Sean] ****
--Rock Hard to Break (?) [Sara] ****
--My Baby Left Me ****
--Walking After Midnight [Fiona and Sara] ***
--Tonight You Belong to Me [Fiona and Sara] ***
brackets indicate singer
* = with Fiona Apple and Benmont Tench
** = with Fiona Apple, Benmont Tench, and Sebastian Steinberg
*** = with Fiona Apple, Benmont Tench, Sebastian Steinberg, and Sara and Sean Watkins
**** = with Benmont Tench, Sebastian Steinberg, and Sara and Sean Watkins
» Night One: i go for it every time