This Is Where I Belong

August 29, 2016 was Jon Brion‘s monthly show at Largo at the Coronet. I’m going to keep this write up pretty to the point, since Jon has already had another show since this one!  Also, it was one of the more mellow shows of Jon’s lately as he wasn’t feeling well.  Nick Kroll opened with a hit-and-miss stand-up routine, before Jon appeared on stage wearing the turquoise trousers and a pair of red polka dot socks (Jon always has some colorful, patterned socks on). He stumped me with a lot of the instrumental music he played that night. Here’s as much of a set list as I can put together.

  1. He started off playing something that sounded strangely familiar at times, but I couldn’t place it. He was bouncing around different notes on the bass line, then onto something more solemn, then lighter jazz. Continuing ino a full sound with lots of notes, then quiet. Beautiful use of dynamics and style transitions. A lot of warming up. When he finished he announced, “Tonight’s disclaimer is I can barely speak – getting over a bronchial thing.” He sounded like it too. I had bronchitis last year and it was exhausting and lingered persistently until I hit it with a full load of drugs. I have to give him credit for even performing that night. He then noted, “I’ll be mildly dazed.” Perhaps he was already on the course of medication.
  2. Lots of chords and light singing of “ohs” (clearly a vocal warm up) into “Here We Go” from Punch-Drunk Love.
  3. Flourish up, change to tack piano and into “Meaningless” from his album of the same title.  Does he play this song differently every time? The beginning seemed different.
  4. He plays something short and beautiful and then requests coffee.
  5. He switches to a different tune. I feel like I know it again, but can’t figure it out: Da de dum dum, da de dum dum. I think he said something like, “Coming out of the cave. Checking around.”  He asks how the audience is and gets a lot of cheers back and responds, “I’m happy for you, if you want to stay in that mood I suggest you don’t turn on the news.”
  6. He asks for requests as he sits down with his guitar. He settles on Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” but advises, “We absolutely positively have to do it as a singalong. If you can sing harmony and sing guitar parts you can do the guitarmony.” He’s having trouble getting the guitar to stay in tune.  “I’m going to tune a little more because Tom Scholz would want it that way.” Well, the guy who requested the song sitting not too far from me sang most of the lyrics, but not so much the rest of the audience until the chorus. During the song, Jon was still having difficulty with the guitar and remarked, “Time for a neck reset.”
  7. Lola”  by the Kinks, audience singalong with Jon continuing on the guitar.
  8. This is Where I Belong” by the Kinks and this is the final song on guitar for the night. “I can’t think of a place I’d rather be, the whole wide world doesn’t mean that much to me.” This is how I feel about Largo when I am there and given that Largo is one of my favorite places on the planet, I’ve used the title of this song for the post title.
  9. Back over to the Largo piano for “Moon River.” He played a full instrumental version, then sang the lyrics and then extended it instrumentally at the end. Such delicate singing on the vocals. This is one of my favorite standards and I am so glad whenever Jon plays it.
  10. Switches to tack piano and plays “Knock Yourself Out” from I Heart Huckabees.
  11. Slightly different, longer version of the “Strange Bath” tune from I Heart Huckabees. Seems like he plays this at nearly every show.
  12. Voices” — I was astounded to hear his gorgeous cover of the Cheap Trick song, which is on his album Meaningless. I’ve been wanting him to play this song for a few months now and have shouted it out at previous shows during request time. So pleased to hear it live. This was the highlight of the night for me.
  13.  He played a short song that I had no idea what it was, but has lyrics, “The best believe me – just leave it all to me.”
  14. Singalong of “For No One” by the Beatles.
  15.  “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” was requested and I believe that was what he played here on piano (it was definitely an old standard), but I am not that familiar with the song.   At one point in the song he said, “Ethel Merman got it right.” He was stamping his feet a lot to this one.
  16. Maple Leaf Rag,” but he starts out playing it too fast. He stops and adjusts tempo talking about what Scott Joplin advised in the playing of ragtime and says “It’s about the syncopation.” Plays it straightforward for a minute. Then says, “But fuck it, he’s not here” and kicks up the tempo significantly.
  17. He plays Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” beautifully, then turns it into a rag. Classic Jon Brion moment.
  18. Finds some duct tape to put across the piano strings and plays Harry Nilsson’s “One,” remarking at one point, “The one person filibuster.”
  19. “We’ll do one nice and easy.” “Here’s one of mine I heard (requested) earlier.” Plays “Strings That Tie to You” from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. “I hope you forgive my lack of larynx, but I appreciate you’re here.”
  20. He gets a shouted request for “Let’s Get It On” (Marvin Gaye) and puts everything into playing it. It is an unbelievable performance.  He collapses on stage afterward in a slight comedic manner, though plausibly because he has been completely drained of energy.
  21. Jon received a big ovation at the end. I think the whole audience is appreciative of his dedication to the evening even though he was under the weather. Surprisingly, he comes back on stage for an encore, performing “Everything Happens to Me.” Perfect.

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