Posted on April 5, 2009 at 11:19 am | 2 Comments
One of the most rewarding results of recording the shows I go to is when I’m able to capture the exact moment when I completely fall for an artist. It happens rarely, since I’m most often well enough in love with a band before I see them on stage… but I felt it again two weeks back, just a few songs into John Darnielle‘s solo set at the Somerville Theatre.
As a casual Mountain Goats follower for many years, one who’s hardly heard a Darnielle-penned song he didn’t like, I for some reason never quite crossed over into full-on fan. Can’t say why, really… many friends have long been converted, ones I trust implicitly, but it took me ages to pick up one of his/their many full-lengthers. Maybe that was part of the problem – as the type of fan who has completist tendencies, becoming an MG devotee was a daunting prospect. Still, last year’s “Heretic Pride”, while atypical of John’s lower-fi, less produced output, nudged me closer, and as soon as I found out about his “Gone Primitive” solo tour with John Vanderslice, a 3rd row seat was mine. And my conversion was inevitable.
His performance was a wonder – captivating, sincere, and totally charming. From the songs themselves to the candid between-song banter, I was utterly spellbound. Frequent goosebumps, I tell you. I’ve seen many shows at that theatre, and never had it felt as intimate as it was that night. The audience played a big part of that – the love they gave him and the appreciation he gave back, the silence as he played contrasted with the overwhelming applause as each song finished – just magical. I frankly felt lucky to be there, especially on a night when John tried out a couple new ideas – 1) play mostly songs he really wants to play and 2) call on specific audience members for requests in order to quiet the song-shouters (in vain, though that was). Doing so gave us a setlist of relative rarities, one that to my ears never lulled.
Let’s all be grateful that John is avidly pro-taper, and that I’m able to share up this set… it really is something special. I spent a ridiculous amount of time editing and mastering this thing, and I hope you’ll be able to tell… the sheer volume of the applause and the occasional delicacy of John’s playing made the post-production a serious challenge, but it was worth it.
As you’ll hear, John Vanderslice (whose set I will be sharing soon) joined JD back on stage for a few new songs near the end of the main set – JD’s “Emerging” (I’m only guessing that’s the title), “Surrounded“, and the JV-fronted “Steps Columns Pillars“, all three of which can be found on a brand-spankin’ new split tour EP titled “Moon Colony Bloodbath” (beautifully designed by Horse & Buggy Press – front cover / back cover). Unfortunately, production delays kept them from selling it on most of the tour (which happens to finish up tonight in Bloomington), so only those at the last few dates have been able to grab one of these 7-song, vinyl treasures. While JV sent out a Twitter message that a batch of the limited-to-1000 EPs would be available via mailorder soon (ixnay on the ebay!), I’ve got a hankering for one of the first 200 (green vinyl!), so this is where I ask a fellow fan to pick one up for me. I will, rest assured, reciprocate the kindness in some way.
Back to the details then straight to the tracks – JV also sings a bit of backup on “No Children” before the encore, and returns to share the stage for a fantastic show-closing version of “This Year“. A ninety-minute trip that was over too soon…
a solo set by John Darnielle, with guest John Vanderslice
Live at the Somerville Theatre
in Somerville, MA
on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
02. I Love You, Let’s Light Ourselves on Fire
03. Woke Up New
05. Un Reve Plus Long Que La Nuit (November Love Song)
06. Cobscook Bay
07. You or Your Memory
08. Sign of the Crow 2
10. Black Pear Tree
12. Blueberry Frost
13. So Desperate
14. Marduk T-Shirt Men’s Room Incident
15. Island Garden Song
16. Going to Alaska
17. Beach House
19. The Sign (Ace of Base cover)
20. Emerging (new)
21. Surrounded (new)
22. Steps Columns Pillars (new – JV sings, JD sings backup)
23. No Children (JV sings backup)
24. See America Right
Some Mountain Goats linkage…
- Additional Audio: It’s out there, everywhere. Try the Live Music Archive for some great sets, hit up my compadre NYCTaper for last week’s NYC show. John has an Mp3 from each of his recent albums on his discography page. I’ve been listening to The Wave Pictures lately (thanks to Jonathan), and happened upon an Mp3 of this song, which features Mr. Darnielle as a guest…
- For the curious, the tracklist for the just-released “Moon Colony Bloodbath” tour EP with John Vanderslice is – 1. Surrounded (JD), 2. Lucifer Rising (JV), 3. Satori in Denver (JD), 4. Scorpio Rising (JV), 5. Sudden Oak Death (JD), 6. Columns Pillars Steps (JV), 7. Emerging (JD). I’ll probably Twitter something when/if I find one via mail order.
- Video: John has a few shared on his site, and of course a Mountain Goats YouTube search turns up a ton of live clips.
- Photos: My shots from the show are here. Check out a Mountain Goats and/or John Darnielle Flickr search.
- Upcoming tourdates:
- Stream any and all ‘Nac-hosted Mp3s at the Hype Machine.
a bit o’ fine print… Live sets recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps Mp3s. Files are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.