“You’ve never seen him before? He’s a genius!” These words from a fan waiting near the stage helped prepare me for Friday night’s Jonathan Richman show at the Echo. Before doors even opened, long lines of ticketholders and non-ticketholders both young and old gathered in front of the venue, eager to hear and see this legendary singer-songwriter.
Bodies packed tightly into the Echo, and by the time Richman and drummer Tommy Larkins took the stage, the temperature had become sweltering. He quickly made sure to announce that the lack of A/C was his fault and preference, and not that of the Echo’s, before launching into song. Richman promised a ten minute break during the night so that the audience could cool down. “People have been known to faint at my shows… So, it’s your call,” warned the singer when the time came for him that relief, but even Richman could tell that the fans did not want him to leave and stop the momentum he had carefully been building.
The set, a fast-paced two hours of song blending into song seamlessly, stuffed full of Richman’s quirky embellishments, commentary, and impressively limber dance moves. Lyrics also sung in Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, and French no doubt speak to why he enjoys an international fanbase. With a career spanning several decades, there would never be enough time to play all the hits, but favorites like “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar” and “Let Her Go Into the Darkness” made the cut at the Echo, as well as newer track “Bohemia.”
Jonathan Richman closed with the somber “As My Mother Lay Lying” before graciously leaving the stage and into the night.
Photos by Leslie Kalohi.