Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Jayhawks at The Fonda Theatre, 1-10-15 Concert Review

"I'm Gonna Make You Love Me"
Recently a few albums by The Jayhawks (Sound Of Lies, Smile and Rainy Day Music) were re-issued, and so the band is currently touring to promotes those CDs. Last night I caught them at The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, and it was a completely enjoyable show. While most of the set focused on material from those three albums, they did play a few songs from other releases throughout their career, which now spans thirty years. Holy moly!

The Jayhawks took the stage at 9:09 p.m., following a really good opening set by Trapper Schoepp And The Shades. After a short joke about being glad the barrier was there in front of the audience so that people wouldn’t rush the stage, the band jumped right in with “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” a tune from Smile, one of the albums that was re-issued last year. After “The Man Who Loved Life,” they mentioned the re-issues, but then played a song from farther back – “Ain’t No End” from their 1989 release, Blue Earth. This tune featured a nice, brief lead spot on mandolin. They were a seven-piece band last night, including Gary Louris, Marc Perlman, Tim O’Reagan, Karen Grotberg, Kraig Johnson, John Jackson on mandolin and guitar, and Jessica Greene on violin.

The band quickly established a good rapport with the audience. In introducing “Trouble,” Gary talked about Marc Perlman, and how he’s been there since day one. This song featured really sweet vocals. After “Stumbling Through The Dark,” Gary joked about having trouble playing these songs because they didn’t perform on their own records, letting session musicians handle that work. Someone in the audience yelled out a name, which the band didn’t recognize. So they teased him that he was shouting out his own name. After that they went into “Angelyne,” a delightful pop song from Rainy Day Music, my personal favorite Jayhawks album. Gary played harmonica on this one, and afterwards the band joked, “I know you’re thinking these guys never age.” Before “Save It For A Rainy Day,” Gary talked a bit about how the band started in 1985. He said: “There was no such thing as alternative country. We invented it. And now we hate it.”

The Jayhawks played a lot of their best material, including “Smile,” a song I love and one which offers this bit of good advice: “Smile when you’re down and out.” Tim had a chance to take over lead vocals on the sweet “Tampa To Tulsa.” And of course they played “Blue.” I love these lines: “Always thought I was someone/Turned out I was wrong.” David Poe joined the band on guitar and backing vocals for “Tailspin.”

In addition to excellent original material, The Jayhawks did a seriously fun cover of the Billy Walker country song “Down To My Last Cigarette,” with Karen on lead vocals, and some really nice work on fiddle as well. They also did a few songs from the 1998 Golden Smog album Weird Tales, including “Looking Forward To Seeing You,” which Kraig Johnson wrote and which Jessica Greene sang lead on, and “Jennifer Save Me,” which Gary Louris and Kraig Johnson wrote. The vocals were particularly beautiful on “Jennifer Save Me.”

The band did a four-song encore, including the very pretty “Sound Of Lies” and “All The Right Reasons,” one of my personal favorites. During a rocking cover of Neil Young’s “Sedan Delivery,” there were problems with a guitar strap not staying on, but that didn’t slow them down a bit. And they ended the night with another Golden Smog song, “Until You Came Along.” Trapper Shoepp And The Shades joined the band for that last number, so there were twelve musicians on stage for the end of the show.

Interestingly The Jayhawks played nothing from their very first album or from their 2011 album.

Set List
  1. I’m Gonna Make You Love Me
  2. The Man Who Loved Life
  3. Ain’t No End
  4. Big Star
  5. Trouble
  6. Stumbling Through The Dark
  7. Angelyne 
  8. Take Me With You (When You Go)
  9. Looking Forward To Seeing You
  10. Somewhere In Ohio
  11. Smile
  12. Tampa To Tulsa
  13. Waiting For The Sun
  14. Jennifer Save Me  
  15. Blue  
  16. Down To My Last Cigarette 
  17. Real Light  
  18. Save It For A Rainy Day
  19. Tailspin
  20. I’d Run Away 
  1. Sound Of Lies
  2. All The Right Reasons
  3. Sedan Delivery
  4. Until You Came Along
The show ended at 10:59 p.m.

Here are a few photos from the set:

"I'm Gonna Make You Love Me"
"Looking Forward To Seeing You"
"Tampa To Tulsa"
"Real Light"
"I'd Run Away"
"Sedan Delivery"
"Until You Came Along"
"Until You Came Along"
The Fonda Theatre is located at 6126 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood.  It's a really nice venue, with a seated area in the balcony and general admission on the floor. The most important thing is that the sound was quite good last night.