Jude/ Brandi Carlile

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Thursday, September 22, 2005
Note to my future self: Jen - next time you decide to write up a show, don't wait so long. You forget things and then have to make shit up.

Friday September 9th, 2005 - Aladdin Theater.

Sometimes I am a jackass. As revelations go, it's not much of one, but I am reminded of it because not that long ago I was feeling all 'aww, poor Jude! his show will be cheap and only me, my sister, and 100 other KINK fm listeners will be there. I hope he doesn't get too despondent.' First of all - the show was priced right at my imaginary concert maginot line: 15 dollars. Secondly, it was PACKED. They even had seats filling up the area between the normal first row and right up at the edge of the stage. (to keep people from standing/ dancing? I don't know). At first (because, remember - I am a clueless jackass) I thought maybe it was to accommodate opening act Brandi Carlile's huge family. Does she have a huge family that happens to live in pdx even though she lives in Seattle? I don't know - but this was my first thought. Occam's razor was in my other purse, I guess. As the evening wore on, it became apparent that we were but visitors to Planet Jude. The natives (Judeites? Judeans? Judeitarians?) knew all the song titles and hooted their requests at the stage. I knew Jude could sing and write songs like nobody's business, but I didn't know that he could handle a genteelly unruly audience from the microphone without breaking a sweat. But he did! This is no mean feat when song titles being yelled at the stage include Black Superman and Gay Cowboy (he performed the latter which was hilariously wonderful) and constant loud requests from some drunk guy who sounded like he had his fist in his mouth. Jude was affable and interactive, taking the measure and mood of the room with scary accuracy. Jude can think on his feet. He's the guy that you would want to stand behind as he verbally whips the flesh off of some mouthy dumbass bully and point and yell, "Yeah, what he said!" until it turns out that the bully who you thought was standing up was sitting down and is actually 10 feet tall and has clubs for hands and now you're in trouble. Thanks a lot, Jude.

He played with just a drummer and a bass player, but they all worked together wonderfully. It was an interesting dynamic - his bass player was pretty young, his drummer was older, and there was Jude in the middle. It's hard to get a bead on him - even on his CDs. Folk? Pop? Rock? All Music calls him Pop Undergound, but what does that even mean? Is he the most sincere, sweet-hearted singer in the world (say, the fantastic cover of Everything I Own, or I Do)? Is he a jokey affable lover-man (Sit Ups)? Is he way creepy but strangely sexy (Indian Lover)? Is he an articulate angel-voiced jerk (The Asshole Song)? Is he pissed off, but sooo catchy (Rick James, Out of L.A.)? Is he a mind-reader (insert song of your choice here)? He's all that and huge in France! I only have two of his CDs (No One is Really Beautiful, and The King of Yesterday) - both of which I would wholeheartedly recommend. Although you might wait for KoY - it looks like he might be re-releasing it with some extra songs (including one called Cuba where he talks about what he would like to do to certain record label executives. As someone who often gets the urge to kick people in the head, it resonated). Anyway - after this show I knew that I would have to fill in the rest of the catalog that I was missing.

His website has some samples and a few mp3's if you want to get a little taste of it. He also writes on there pretty often and gives glimpses of what it is like to be a musician at his level (and in the most recent entry talks about a PLATE SPINNER, which I love because nobody talks about plate spinners any more). There are also some video (I recommend the one in the upper left corner of the video section on the media page, which is long-ish, but it has a nice sort of medley/montage and proof of the huge in France thing).

Brandi Carlile was the opening act, and I thought she was OK, but she did not rock my world. I think she also opened up for Chris Isaak in July. Honestly, I found her songs to be very samey and the whole set-up/sound felt very mid-90's Sincere Girl With Guitar to me. I looked on AMG to see if I was crazy, and according to them, I am. They gave her album 4.5 stars out of 5 and thought it sounded fresh and fabulous. (they had no information at all on Jude beyond 2001, which just seems wrong) I think she might be just the sort of singer-songwriter that doesn't grab me right away if ever. There's nothing for me to grab on to - there were no hooks, no 'ooh, yeah! I like this part," or "did he just say obstreperous?" moments, which I sort of rely on the first few times I hear anything. To be fair - I definitely thought while I was listening to her and her band that these songs would be somebody's favorite song ever, but never mine. She seemed really nice, but I kept thinking that someone like Jill Sobule would be a better match with Jude.

I would definitely go to another show when he comes back to Portland! Maybe I can get my Judeitarian paperwork underway in the mean time.
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