Joe Henry @ Largo (Los Angeles, July 19)

LargoSorry I'm a little tardy with my recap of the JH solo show at Largo last week.  Joe Henry shows are a relative rarity in general, as his touring has been fairly limited over the past decade.  The Largo show was billed as his first entirely solo performance of his career, making the event perhaps a bit more special to lucky fans in attendance.  Certainly I'm sure I'll never see another concert where Orson Welles' Touch of Evil was projected on the rear stage curtains for much of the evening.  It was that sort of show.

The record and tour for Reverie probably reminded a lot of listeners that JH is a wonderful and versatile guitarist in his own right, and naturally most of the songs at Largo were performed on guitar, which included two Gibsons, a Martin and one of his new New Era guitars (larger-bodied than he usually favors).  I couldn't say for sure, but I think each of these guitars were tuned differently (alternate tunings are one of the secrets to Joe's unique guitar sound).  An upright piano received a workout for only one tune, a wonderful take on "Time Is A Lion."  The set was a fan's dream come true, as he touched on nearly all of his records, including even Short Man's Room.  Also included, as promised, were four new songs that are being recorded at Garfield House this week.

The show deviated from the "solo set" format only once when Jay Bellerose and son Levon Henry joined JH onstage for a serpentine take on "All Blues Hail Mary."  If you've seen JH in concert, you'll assume correctly that the set was filled with more than a few asides and anecdotes.  Particularly moving was his recounting of being overwhelmed by his visit to Hiroshima with Lisa Hannigan and finding himself playing "Kindness Of The World" as his response to the moment.  With that song the show concluded with a perfect grace note.

UPDATE:  Full set list (courtesy Farnam Brown, to whom "Short Man's Room" was dedicated)…

  • Dirty Magazine
  • Odetta
  • [Grave Angels]
  • You Can’t Fail Me Now
  • Like She Was A Hammer
  • Eyes Out For You
  • [Invisible Hour]
  • Sold
  • Monkey
  • Fuse
  • Time Is A Lion [Piano]
  • Short Man’s Room
  • [Swayed]
  • Flag
  • Trampoline
  • [Plainspeak]
  • ***
  • All Blues Hail Mary w/Jay B & Levon
  • Kindness of the world

[songs in brackets are new]

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