Rodriguez at the 1STBANK Center, 4/30/13
When Rodriguez played "Sugar Man," the song that inspired the title of the movie that brought him very much back into the public consciousness, there was something mythical about the song. The performance matched the mystique. On stage, Rodriguez is gracious, gentle and humble in a way that is entirely commanding. He brings a sense of vulnerability, and not just in his spare confessional words, but also in the open spirit of his music.
The show started with the pronouncement: "Ladies and gentlemen. The search is over. I present to you Rodriguez." And without much in the way of stage banter, a trait that would continue through much of the show, Rodriguez got things started with "Climb Up On My Music."
Without context, the music could sometimes come off like blues bar band fare, except that Rodriguez has a gift for taking rhyming couplets, normally the sign of an inexperienced songwriter, and turning observations cast in this manner into a larger poetic statement. In this way, Rodriguez's understated lyrics and the way he assembles his words, lulls you into thinking you're hearing the usual sort of thing in ballads about relationships and love and loss, and then he hits you with a poignant, sometimes devastating, line.
Before performing "Fever," there was a quiet moment, and Rodriguez treated us to some jokes. The first being the old chestnut about two cannibals eating the clown and one asking the other if it tastes funny. The second was Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse seeing a relationship counselor, and the counselor telling Mickey that Minnie being "stupid" is not grounds for a divorce, to which Mickey says, "I didn't say she was stupid. I said she was fuckin' Goofy."
After "To Whom It May Concern," Rodriguez talked a bit about being seventy years old and how he had to use his "senior advantage." He then told us that how in love, one shouldn't be a silent partner, and that free love is too expensive. For a guy who exuded such grace and dignity, Rodriguez hasn't lost his sense of absurd and sometimes profane sense of humor.
The set ended with "Forget It," but after a short wai,t the band came back out on stage and pumped up the crowd some, and then Rodiguez himself came back, and the group performed a kind of lounge-y take on "Like a Rolling Stone" and a more rocked-up version of "I Only Have Eyes for You."
Earlier in the night, the show started with Jenny O and her quartet. Like Rodriguez, her speaking style was polite and even demure. But when she sang, her voice traversed between songs that were vibrant, soaring melodies and spare, impressionistic bits of phrasing. Likewise, the music was informed by gentle, textured rhythms and expansive waves of layered dynamics.
1STBANK Center - 4/30/13
01. Climb Up on My Music
02. Only Good for Conversation
03. I Wonder
04. Inner City Blues
05. Just One of Those Things [Cole Porter]
06. This Is Not a Song It's an Outburst: Or The Establishment Blues
07. Street Boy
09. Sugar Man
10. Can't Get Away
11. Sea of Heartbreak [Don Gibson]
12. Blue Suede Shoes [Carl Perkins]
13. Like Janis
14. Crucify Your Mind
15. You'd Like to Admit It
16. Fever [Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell]
17. To Whom It May Concern
18. Rich Folks Hoax
19. I Think of You
20. Forget It
21. Like a Rolling Stone [Bob Dylan]
22. I Only Have Eyes for You [Harry Warren and Al Dubin]
Personal Bias: Since hearing about Rodriguez's story, I've been curious to see him live.
Random Detail: Ran into Nelson Echeverry, formerly of The
Haircut, at the show.
By the Way: I haven't seen Searching For Sugar Man yet.
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