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Jonathan Richman
A Concert Review

October 3, 1996

Lounge Ax

Chicago, IL

A Review by
The Dude on the Right
I'm cruising around the internet looking for some information about Jonathan Richman. There are basically two responses when questioned about Jonathan Richman: One is, "Jonathan Richman - he's great," while the other is "Jonathan who?" I was in the "Jonathan who?" category, at least for the time being because the night's travels would take me to the legendary Lounge Ax in Chicago to see none other than Jonathan who, I mean Richman.

Now, I've never been to Lounge Ax before, and the day after the show one of our local monthly's had a brief snippet that basically says something like "if your short go early to get close to the stage." Guess what, I'm short. And guess what again, I was late. And guess what a third time, I couldn't see shit.

Now, also in my perusing around the internet I found some comments from some fans which basically said a Jonathan Richman show is funny, entertaining, and everyone who has ever gone to one switches sides from the "Jonathan who?" camp to the "Jonathan Richman - he's great" camp. Me, I guess now I'm stuck in my own little camp because that night I found out who Jonathan Richman was, but couldn't switch my opinion to he's great. But I think it was my own fault so don't count the Jonathan-man out. We'll get to me blaming myself during this review, what about the show.

I think my first problem was that I was one of the few fans who had listened to his new CD, "Surrender to Jonathan." Good for me, but a Jonathan Richman show was as much as crowd participation as it is him up there singing. Me being stuck in the back and too short, I knew the songs but the crowd didn't. Hence, not much on the crowd participation part and hence, Jonathan, who is seems like the kind of performer to feed off a crowd, had no one to feed off of except me and he didn't even know I was alive. The crowd listened, kinda seemed to like what they heard, but just couldn't get into the music yet. His music is kinda surf-guitarish, kinda hawaiian-esque, kinda folksy, and the lyrics are kinda funny if you listen. I guess it took a while for this show to develop, so me, I just couldn't get into the spirit. Hmmmm. Where am I going with this?

Well, being stuck in the back I also couldn't feed off of the crowd when they finally got into the show. That and the sound sucked in the fact that the rear speakers only had instruments coming out of them which made trying to listen to his comical lyrics nearly impossibly for me. Dammit, I wanted to have a good time and just couldn't. But whether I did doesn't matter because the crowd in front of me had a good time, well at least a little bit in front of me because those around me seemed as frustrated as I was.

I guess this is what I can tell you about Jonathan Richman and his show. Go early and get a good spot near the stage - everybody up front, once he got past his new material, was singing, dancing, and laughing and just seeming to have a good ol' time. If you don't get there early, bring some stilts so you can see - it seemed like his dancing and antics were just as fun a part of the show as his singing. Also, get his new CD so you know the lyrics to his new material - then you can sing with him instead of listen. And, well, that's about it. His music is fun and although I haven't been converted to the "Jonathan Richman - he's great" camp yet, next time I'll know the rules to follow.

As for the rating, me, I didn't have a good time, but who cares what kind of time I had. The crowd in front of me seemed to have a blast and that's what counts and I'm sure there were some converts to the "he's great" camp in there too. It's TWO "THEY LIKED HIM" THUMBS UP because he didn't let his fans down.

That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right. L8R!!!


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