Thursday, December 21, 2006

Joanna Newsom At The Great American Music Hall - 12/20/06

I must say that while I was relatively impressed with Joanna Newsom’s new double LP, “Ys”, I have been staying pretty well above all the hype that’s been growing/surrounding her. That all being stated, however, she (and her fabulous backing band!) was amazing at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco last night. I’m not going to get into any kind of full-on concert review, but I will make these two quick observations:

1 - Joanna, herself, was a phenomenal performer to see. Here’s this slight woman mastering this huge instrument, while at the same time singing these incredibly convoluted and lengthy dadaesque lyrics. She looked like it was an incredible effort while she was doing it, but it must not have been as grueling as it appeared, since at the end of each song her face would just glow, instead of her nearly keeling over to catch her breath (ala Harry Pussy’s Adris Hoyos!).

2 - The band, though only 6 in total, did a fabulous job of recreating the LP’s vast sonic landscape. In particular, Dan Cantrell, was amazing on Jew’s Harp, saw (!), and accordion, the latter of which was almost literally able to replicate the swells of the LP’s 32 piece orchestra! Honestly, this was, overall, even better live than on record (if that’s to be believed as being possible - and it is!), with the greater immediacy of the live performance more than compensating for any slight deficiencies inherent in the trade off of dropping from an orchestra to a sextet. Truly one of the best live performances I’ve seen in a long time!

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