At the Show with Mason Jennings
October 16, 2011, 7:31 am
Pretend you're dying. Close your eyes. What do you see? All the biggest moments of your life in chronological order? Or, is it flashes of memories, some insignificant, some very. It's these flashes that made up Mason Jennings' newest album Minnesota
, or at least that's the way that he explained it in between songs at the Wonder Ballroom last night.
At this point in my concert going life, I'm a Mason aficionado. This is the third time I've seen Jennings, not including his Bing Lounge performances. This doesn't mean that I'm an easy sell. In fact, quite the opposite... my expectations were sky high as I entered the Ballroom.
The set started with a murmur, or more specifically, a harpsichord. Mason came out and quieted the crowd, which was noticeably larger than his last showing in Portland, with a bare bones version of the medieval quest-type song Rudy. From harpsichord, Mason moved to the piano to pound out another new song. At this point, I started wondering if all of the instruments on stage were just for Mason to hop around on, or if he was going to have a full band join him at some point. As it turns out, both!
With his third song, Raindrops on the Kitchen Floor, Jennings was joined onstage by a jack-of-all-trades whose name I missed. Sorry, guy. Whatever his name, he moved throughout the show from guitar, to bass, to drums. So did Mason. Constantly. Their attention span for each instrument was fleeting, like a baby in room full of shiny things. And that's how it went, with the exception of a few songs at the end of his set when he was joined on-stage by openers "The Pines." The two-person song arrangements mostly worked, although I'd be lying if I said there weren't times when I was secretly hoping that the drum brushes would be traded in for sticks.
It's hard to complain when a songwriter as talented as Jennings breaks his songs down into a sparser form so you can really feel their meaning. Especially when Jennings took the time to explain his meanings, motivations, and life stories. However, for a show where many of the dance-able songs have been traded in for melody, perhaps a venue with seats would've been more appropriate. Or maybe I'm just getting old. ~Jason Miller
Set List (As close as I could tell):
Raindrops on the Kitchen Floor
Drinking as Religion
Hmm... Missed it, sounde like something early
Ballad For My One True Love
Have Some Faith?
Be Here Now
Ain't No Friend of Mine
Well of Love
Lonesome Tremolo Blues ("The Pines" Song)
Livin' in the Moment
City of Ghosts
One Paddle (Hawaiian Lullaby)
Hobos Lullaby (Woody Guthrie Cover)
Song to Make You Whole?
Hearts Stop Beating
*Highlight of the evening