Jennifer O’Connor was just starting as I locked up my bike and got my tickets from the box office. I walked in and everyone was standing around the edges and sitting in the seats near the bar while she sang and played guitar, and her drummer drummed. She has a really nice voice and is a competent guitar player, but I didn’t find her songs particularly engaging.
Damien Jurado came on next. (Can I tell you how much this blogger likes two act bills, especially mid-week? It’s good for the sleeping and the old knees.)
Damien Jurado “is a band” these days, with Damien himself, Jenna Conrad and Eric Fisher. Damien sings and mostly plays guitar; Jenna sings as well. Jenna and Eric trade off on guitar and drums; Jenna plays some keyboard; Damien played drums on one song. One audience member, early on in the concert, yelled “I like it when you switch instruments!” Jenna calmly responded: “Well you’re in for a treat then.”
There were a few funny bits of banter in the show. I wanted to share another one that I laughed at.
Damien [vaguely to the lighting guy]: I liked the blue lights. Could we get the blue lights back? They calm me, make me feel like I’m in church. Or that I’m in a play.
Jenna: Don’t you think they’re a bit depressing?
Damien: That reminds me, they are the same color of the Paxil I used to take.
Damien: I’m serious. 30mg.
[Note: reading this back, I realize that this may come across as just depressing--maybe you had to have been there.]
But ANYWAY, back to the music. The audience wasn’t packed in, certainly, but the people who were there were pretty receptive to Jurado. Leaning heavily on material from the new album, the set was fairly full of songs the audience didn’t know but still were responsive to. There were enough old gems in the set that any fan would have been pretty happy. “Ohio”, “Medication” (the closer for the encore), “Great Today”, “Abilene” and quite a few songs from Where Shall You Take Me? in general. I like “Ohio” a ridiculous amount and in six Damien Jurado shows, this is, I believe, the first time I’d seen him play “Medication”, another of my favorites. He also played a lovely song, “Last Rights” that I first heard on his Black Cab Session–see the video below of that.
The band played well and the always anxious Jurado seemed slightly more at-ease than I’d seem him before. There’s always something nice about seeing Jurado. His songs break your heart repeatedly, but I, at least, always leave with some hope–maybe it’s just that he shines light on the fact that there’s such good, straight-forward songwriting out there. I’m not sure about that, but I’m sure I’ll see Jurado again.
“Last Rights” on the Black Cab Sessions