Loudon Wainwright III/Jentri Colello; November 16, 2008; Majestic Theater
While it doesn’t quite break my Rick Springfield record for number of years between shows (~22 years), I believe the last time I saw Loudon Wainwright was 1987. I was a senior in college and spending all my non-studying time at the Joynt, which still put on the occasional concert. I didn’t really know much about the gangly troubadour who was playing that night, but I’d been listening to More Love Songs his most recent record nearly non-stop since dubbing it from one of the bartenders. I don’t remember many specifics of the show, but I do know he played his best know song, “Dead Skunk.”
Well, times have changed. Oh, it’s still his best known song; I guess he just doesn’t play it much anymore. I’ll admit I was disappointed, but the rest of his surprisingly high energy set certainly wasn’t a disappointment. The sense of humor that made “Skunk” a surprise hit is evident in much of his work. I was fortunate to hear one of his best songs twice. Before playing it as the bonus track during his 30 Minute Music Hour taping that afternoon , he admitted that he had written it for his character on “Undeclared,” but director Judd Apatow declared it too smart for Hal Karp. I had intended to see the entire show, but arrived just in time for that tune. I frequently tease host Andy Moore about his laid back approach to a schedule on taping days, so I was doubly surprised to hear that he had started early. Turns out they wanted to get him done early since he did have a show to play that night.
Taping the program that day certainly didn’t seem to affect his energy for that night’s show. Each song was accompanied by a series of ridiculous faces, and his animated facial contortions, wagging tongue and fluttering eyebrows made watching him as entertaining as listening. Alone on stage his unhurried approach gave him the time to explain the genesis of each song. I was already doing the math when he admitted that “Five Years Old” written for his daughter on her birthday was a really old song. Since Martha is releasing records of her own now, that much was obvious. While he may be somewhat old-fashioned, he is certainly more aware of technology than some performers of his longevity. “Are you videoing me?” he questioned an audience member, “Don’t do that, I don’t want to end up on YouTube.
As much as I love Jentri Colello, she seemed an odd choice as opener. Even she seemed somewhat amused by their inclusion on the bill. After mentioning that she usually plays with a band, she admitted that they had wanted a solo acoustic opener, laughing when she noted that not only was she playing as a duo (with Josh Harty on guitar), but they were also electric. Still, her thoughtful songs and quiet musings seemed to go over well with the older crowd, and I am sure they were charmed by her stunning voice, smoky and sultry. No one seemed to mind when she said what an honor it was to be opening for someone she “used to listen to”. Instead of taking it as an insult, everyone understood she meant since she was young, not that she no longer liked his music. I think that was true of many of the people there. It certainly was for me.