Sunday, August 10, 2008
2008-08-09 Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts, KEXP BBQ (Seattle)
After his acclaimed performance in the KEXP studios last month, the radio station asked Joe to play at their 6th Annual summer BBQ, and not only did he agree but he brought his band with him. He might have also brought fortunate weather as well, since the rainstorm that pelted us all during Common Ground's set (and threatened during Helio Sequence's) finally cleared and rewarded us with a beautiful double rainbow of happiness that Joe in particular seemed to appreciate. Sometimes it's the little things which have the greatest effect, but coincidence or not, the band went on to perform magnificently.
This was the first time in several months that the Lonely Astronauts had played out, and although Jen Turner was unable to make the show due to a prior commitment, Kraig Jarrett Johnson handled both his and her guitar parts admirably well, and he clearly relished what he was doing. Everyone else on-stage were in equally high spirits, with Sybil Buck literally bouncing up and down and around several times. Maybe they got high off the fumes from Greg 'G-Wiz' Wieczorek's birthday candles earlier (or our in-concert sing-a-long of 'Happy Birthday'), I dunno. But it was an exciting, energetic set that started off with the excellent new song, 'Temporary People' and alternated mostly between tracks from "Nuclear Daydream" and the soon-to-be released, "Temporary People", with one nod to "Let's Just Be" coming in the form of 'Spacemen'.
The band were supple but sharp. Sybil had some hesitation during a bridge breakdown during 'Turn You On,' as she switched to playing slower single notes and looked to Kraig for direction, but she covered herself well and made it back to the verse just fine. This song in particular seems to have undergone some changes, with the (re-?)introduction of a new bridge section that wasn't there during Joe's solo performances of the song.
This was the first time I'd heard (or even heard of) 'Say Goodbye', and it was powerful in it's elegance. Joe dedicated this one to the late Bernie Mac, although I'm sure Isaac Hayes (or at least "Chef") would have been included as well, if only we'd known.
A fiery version of 'Spacemen' closed out the show at full tilt, with one of G-Wiz's sticks flying away from him, Joe jumping up on the kick drum and launching himself off, Sybil positively aglow doing backup vocals, and Kraig channeling the spirit of two guitars through his lone instrument. That, my friends, is a rock and roll show.
And if I was in danger of forgetting it, there were a handful of fake fans fighting their way to the front to remind me, several of them screaming about how much they love Joe, while then proceeding to scream/talk at their friends during the entire song. Joe fans are generally less vapid than that, and I'd almost forgotten what true festival ambience was like when the starpower (and beer) goes to their heads and people are desperate to make themselves part of the experience. Ah, the madding crowd!
Photo courtesy of: the intrawebs (thank you intrawebs!)