Joseph Arthur and Jill Sobule :: Troubadour
June 9, 2015 :: West Hollywood, California
My Summer of live music continued last night at one of my all-time favorite venues, the Troubadour. There is so much history in this venue. I walk around inside and swear I can hear the echoes of so many live shows, some that I have been to, and many before my time. I always feel a thrill chase through me as I first walk inside, the ghosts of music past and present all filling my bloodstream and getting me ready for the music.
The opening act of the night was Jill Sobule, an artist I discovered back in the mid-90’s when I worked at Tower Records. It was then that I fell hard for her self-titled album, especially the song Houdini’s Box, which I was THRILLED that she performed last night. Jill pulled off a certain kind of rare opening act magic that I do not see very often – she had the crowd engaged and participating with her, singing-a-long, cheering, and for the last two numbers, about twenty of us were even up on stage with her for a big group sing/live interpretation of a musical she mentioned wanting to do. It was amazing to watch.
Jill is a consummate performer, delightful and talented, sounding better than the times I saw her perform back in the nineties. Oh, and also, it takes someone pretty amazing to have Los Angeles Punk Rock royalty, John Doe, come up and sing backup with you. It was pretty amazing to be there to experience.
Jill was amazing last night. I especially enjoyed Houdin’s Box (an all-time favorite of mine) and Party Girl, and the New York, “25c” sing-a-long. I only wished she had played a longer set. I’d love to see her headline a show sometime soon.
Next up was the headliner, Joseph Arthur, who arrived on-stage almost immediately after Jill left, and began setting-up some of his equipment and doing a brief sound check. He was right on time, per the posted set times, which is a rare occurrence in the world of rock shows, a point that Joseph made before starting his first song, saying that he thought rock should start on time and destruction should soon follow. It was a nice way of introducing his style, which seems to be one-part total artistry, one-part amazing sound, one-part irreverence, and one-part uniquely him. I will say I enjoyed all those parts, thoroughly.
Joseph was a one-man show up on stage, with only two singers joining him to for a handful of songs as his back-up (Mike Mills on two songs, see below and C.C. White for two encore songs). It was completely fascinating to watch how Joseph navigated the stage, added layers of sound via on the spot recording, pedal boards, and the utilization of a metal box for percussion (said box had a hole drilled in it and a microphone set inside, Joseph explained). All of it together, with Joseph’s energy and vocal range, created an astounding performance. I was floored by what a talented musician he is, and how beautiful his voice is. The only thing that ever took away from any of it were the problems he seemed to be having with the sound levels on all microphones on-stage. This seemed to be a continuing annoyance of his, and after awhile it wore on the audience, too, but not to the point of ruining the show – no, the music was just too damn good for that.
Mike Mills and Joseph singing I Miss the Zoo
One of the most impressive and unique moments of the show was when Joseph created a piece of art that he sketched, and then painted, on-stage, live, while singing. Musically, he never missed a beat, or note, and the painting was breathtaking.
It was such an incredible thing to witness, a truly unforgettable experience. Visual art mixed with music does it for me, as anyone who follows along here at lyriquediscorde probably knows, it is inspiring and brings the world into color to me. I was so grateful to have been there to witness something like this…truly.
The photographs do not do the experience justice, as you are only experiencing part of it. It needs the music to complete it. Another of those “you had to be there” moments.
Musically speaking, the highlights of the night, for me, were hearing some of my favorite songs, Honey and the Moon, In the Sun, Travel as Equals, Mercedes and I Miss the Zoo. I also loved hearing some of the new songs off of the upcoming album, Days of Surrender, that I look forward to hearing in its entirety, as well as the song he wrote for Robin Williams, entitled Robin (this one had me in tears and hit on a very personal level; beautiful, hopeful despite the heartbreak, wonderful song). My absolute favorite of the night was Gypsy Faded, a song that resonated and wrapped me up within it – I love when music does that.
Overall, the night of music was wonderful, one that I was thankful to be a part of. Joseph’s remaining tour dates are here – If you get the chance go see him.
Thanks, Joseph, for gifting us with music and art. Thank you to Jill, John, Mike and .C., too. It was an unforgettable, musical Tuesday in June that I won’t forget.
Joseph & Me – thanks for the music!
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