NEWS – Jon Brion at City Winery

I don’t get to L.A. often but, whenever I’ve gone, it’s been with the intention of seeing Jon Brion at his weekly Friday show, first at Largo and then at the Coronet. Never got there, though. Last night, however, Brion (who’s name is pronounced like the name Brian and not bree-on as I thought) took his act to City Winery. Tickets for the show only went on sale a week before and it was unannounced by the venue. Still, the house was full for a performance scheduled to begin at 11:15 but which didn’t actually start until close to midnight. He played over two and a half hours. Jon’s thing is to do covers, some selected by audience request, in novel impromptu, kind of nutty, versions. F’rinstance, having heard requests for a David Bowie and a Randy Newman song, he proceeded to play “Heroes” as a New Orleans barrelhouse and then  a spaceage “Dayton Ohio 1903” with a synthesized loop screeching throughout. He did a fantastically fuzz-toned version of the Duke’s “Solitude”. His musicianship is fantastic, moving among guitars and keyboards and vibraphone even. His voice is not a very versatile instrument, a little reedy, and he’s not so good on lyrics (he often invited the audience to do the singing, occasionally to great effect) but it was a wonderful show. I’d see him again anytime. I’m sure no two shows are remotely the same. He performs some of his own material too which is just fine but he closed with a haunting version of “These Days” on vibraphone. The repertoire had a New York spin (there was a boss nova “Pale Blue Eyes”) and this New Yorker left grateful he had come east for this Friday night. Jon promised future local shows soon and I plan on being there.

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