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Home » John Paul Jones

Club Soda, Montreal, Quebec

1 April 2000 2,193 views No Comment

Soundcheck [!] Zooma, Grind, Tidal [?]
Set I: Zooma, Goose, Grind, Smile of Your Shadow, Nosumi Blues, No Quarter, Spaghetti Junction, Thats the Way/Going to California, Steel Away, Snake Eyes, Nobodys Fault But Mine
Intermission 20 min
Set II: Trineck Loops, Crackback, Bass n Drums (incl. Heart Breaker, DaC, Lemon Song and HMMT), B Fingers, Jump Blues, When the Levee Breaks, Tidal. Encores: Trampled Underfoot, Black Dog

JPJ and his trio were in good spirits tonight. We were in the front row leaning against the stage about 3 feet away from Jonesy. If you are coming as a Zep fan, you will be teased with That’s the Way & Heartbreaker. You will get Going to California, When the Levee Breaks, and Black Dog in their entirety. He really rocked the house at a very high volume. Do not blow marijuana smoke in his face. A fan offered him a joint and you could tell by the look on his face that he was pissed off by that motion. He played the usual set list and seemed to have a great time and spoke some basic French to the crowd. Another bonus was that he was playing lead guitar at many intervals while his guitarist played bass chords on his guitar. Tickets were $25 Canadian and worth it. My girlfriend and I hugged and kissed to No Quarter. JPJ looks healthy compared to aged Mr. Plant and tubby Mr. Page
After the show, his guitarist and drummer came out to greet the many fans who had gathered. JPJ took a secured route and ignored all his fans. During the show, I asked for a guitar pick [which I was eventually given by a roadie] from JPJ and he said, “give us a break for f**ks sake.” Then he ignored all the fans but media phonies. I don’t like to give scathing reviews but JPJ acted like a real jerk compared to his fellow musicicians. My advice to JPJ: Your true fans will respect you if you come off your high horse. After all, he was performing in an intimate venue. Does the song remain the same? Does anyone remember laughter? Cheers!
Harris Black
TBL Note: This appears to conflict with many reports from other shows, although John has stated that he is concerned with certain groups of “fans” who are in fact professional autograph hunters – more reports on this show please!

 

The new Club Soda looked impressive from the sidewalk: brand new, with huge plate glass windows affording a direct view of the floor and stage from the street, with just a small, also enclosed-in-glass bar in between. We could immediately hear them soundchecking: first Terl, who spent a good half-hour bashing away on the kit while the roadies and soundman tweaked everything just right. The light show was being tested as well. Looking through the glass, we could see the triple-neck on its stand, center stage. No sign of JPJ, though. Then, a few minutes later, what’s this? Some keyboard notes were heard. Sounded rather rudimentary to my ears, and when I again peered through the glass, I could see it was Hugh Manson playing. Around 6:00 p.m. we heard a series of majestic, baroque strings, some honky-tonky electric piano runs, and a bit of organ–almost the YTIGC intro there. Face pressed up against the glass again, peering in: sure enough, there’s Jonesy himself, noodling on the Korg and Roland. He soon moved over to the lap steel and stabbed out a few piercing notes. Nick the Stick then appeared as well. At this point a doorman came out and bade everyone form an orderly line down the street, and then announced that anyone who wanted to come sit in the small bar just inside the front door could do so immediately (provided they ordered drinks, of course) and that they would be given priority when the doors opened at 7:30 p.m. What he didn’t say was that we were about be treated to a soundcheck consisting of three full songs: Zooma, Grind and, I think, Tidal. It may have been B Fingers; can’t recall. It was strange to see and hear: the rock legend and his young acolytes, jamming away at dusk (they could have been any old bar band) no more than 100 feet from the bustling sidewalks of Montreal’s Boulevard Saint-Laurent, known as The Main, where the hookers and derelicts and other denizens of the street were just starting to begin their nocturnal rituals. Imagine they were in a small club on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, in full view of the street, and you get the picture.

The Club Soda, as I said, is brand spanking new, and superbly laid out. The stage is about two feet high and 25, maybe 30 feet wide. The dance floor extends back about 60, 70 feet, then there’s the bar at the back. A balcony runs right the way round the walls, and at the back of this mezzanine there are banked rows of seats and another bar. Three of our group immediately took up positions right up against the stage, just in front of Jonesy’s PowerBook laptop. Two others chose the balcony. Myself and three others grabbed some stools up against the left wall, about a third of the way back along the floor.
The show was officially declared sold out: more than 500 tickets had been sold, although the venue can apparently accommodate upwards of 800. The floor was packed to about halfway back. Hugh Manson came out with some lit sticks of incense and placed them stage front. Not very much past the announced start time of 8:30, the lights dimmed and the strains of the synthesized intro to Zooma filled the hall. A loud, lusty welcome for Terl and Nick, then a deafening roar of approval when John Paul sauntered out, with the same aw-shucks, did-you-all-really-come-out-just-to-see-l’il-ol-me? smile we’ve been reading about since last October. Off they went into Zooma and Goose. As everyone has consistently reported, there is no question that this unit is tighter, harder and groovier than on the first leg of the tour. The moment I’d been anticipating, when the bass line to Grind kicks in, did not disappoint. My buddies, all musicians, were suitably impressed by Jones’ work on the 10-string, laying down chords as well as bass notes, and of course Nick the Stick’s prowess. Jonesy managed a “merci beaucoup” after Goose, and a bit later said something like “je pedale ma bicyclette” (“I’m riding my bicycle”–probably something he remembered from school). Somewhere around this point Jonesy introduced Hugh, the master luthier *and* roadie, to much laughter and cheers. Nick’s accompaniment on Smile of Your Shadow was beautifully realized, with none of the discordant “accidental” notes that mar this number on some boots I’ve heard from the first leg. Stepping up to the bass lap steel for the first time of the evening, Jones stunned the majority of the audience, who were clearly unfamiliar with the instrument and almost shocked at Jones’ dexterity. Whispered “Jimmy who?”s began to be heard. More jokes about the Evian water: “A real man’s drink; I can’t drink what the younger members of the band are drinking”–or something like that.
Nosumi Blues was next, and Jonesy was on fire with that slide for this one. Then, the moment most of the room had been waiting for: “Well, it’s dinosaur time. We’re going to go back in time, about two million years.” This was, I thought, a transcendental version of No Quarter, with Jonesy pulling out all the stops on the Korg and Hammond, and Terl and Nick filling the rest out perfectly. Not a note wasted. I wish I could more accurately describe Jonesy’s keyboard work on NQ, in musical terms. Anyway, he modulated and syncopated and comped . . . it was as enjoyable to me as any solo I’ve heard him do on any boot. At one point he played against the beat with some very tasty Latin-tinged chords (don’t ask me if they were bossa nova, samba or merengue), and Terl and Nick followed suit for a couple of bars.
Next, the by-now-familiar apologetic introduction to Spaghetti Junction: “I did this horrible movie soundtrack during the 80s–the film was awful but the music was pretty good, I thought.” At which point one of our gang is waving his Scream for Help album jacket back and forth, to Jonesy’s amusement–“Look, he’s got one, right there!” The best part of Spag Junk to me has always been the staccato clavinet break. The boys had a great groove on this one; much more swing than at the Boston show I saw in October.
The funniest moment of the night came next. I think. Well, it was around this time anyway. An elated Jonesy soaks up the crowd’s welcome a bit, offers more of his golly-gee-shucks thanks, and then looks down at a guy in the front row and laughs: “But I tell you, that T-shirt’s gotta go. I’m looking down, and there’s this huge picture of Robert’s face staring up at me all night.” Peals of laughter from the assembled masses. The next number was a highlight for me, as this was the first point at which the setlist digressed from what I had seen and heard in Boston. A little That’s the Way tease, and he stepped up to the mic . . . “SING IT!” I yelled, just as Jonesy said “You didn’t really think I was going to sing?” Going to California was yet another showcase for the man’s virtuosity. Is there anything he can’t play? All the parts of the song were there, and with this number, along with NFBM, he really seems to me to be saying to, erm, those other two guys: “Take that!” With Jones still on the mandolin, they went into Steel Away, mistaken for You Shook Me by many, because of its affinities to the LZ 1 classic, and by the time the trio finished wiping the floor with that one, the crowd were truly conquered.
The Jones-Beggs interplay on the outro to Snake Eyes is truly awe-inspiring to behold. JPJ thanked the members of the “John Paul Jones orchestra.” Some scathing, lacerating licks on the lap steel, and they were off into Nobody’s Fault. The arrangement is similar to that for Black Dog and Levee, with Jones playing both the main guitar riff and vocal lines on the lap steel. Terl has the stop-start bit down pat; in fact this version sounds as full as the Page/Crowes version, with half the players.
Intermission, and a chance to mingle with our detachment down in the trenches. They were obviously enjoying themselves being so close to the action, and reported that the sound was fine–only the stick was difficult to hear at times. My friend Frank told me he’d also managed to squeeze off plenty of pictures. A warning sign had been posted at the front door (“No cameras or recording devices–violators will be expelled”), but nobody bothered him.
What can I say about the second set? I should mention that the crowd were very respectful. No screaming during the quieter numbers, and only one or two louts yelling for Zeppelin. And me singing along during GtC.
The Trineck Loops worked perfectly. I’m not sure how many in the crowd could tell exactly what Jonesy was doing, but they were digging it. Some rhythmic clapping at one point seemed to spur Jonesy on as he expertly switched necks and got, it seemed, up to five or six separate loops going behind what he was playing “real time.”
Crackback was just fine, but seems a little empty at one juncture, which I guess you could call the bridge, where the arrangement for the stick doesn’t fill out the sound as much as Page’s guitar on the original album cut. A minor quibble.
I’d been looking forward to Bass ‘n’ Drums, having read the recent reviews about how tight Terl and John Paul have got on this number. They were indeed locked into a groove on this night. We got more than a tease of Heart Breaker: the intro plus a whole verse, to be precise. A little bit of Dazed–only two bars in fact, so it was easy to miss–followed. After the show, my friend Frank mentioned he’d heard a little Lemon Song in there as well. A few cycles of the How Many More Times bassline boomed forth before they brought the song home. Fine, fine playing.
Jonesy and co. were all over the B Fingers riff. There’s something about this one that reminds me of Carouselambra. . . This is one of those numbers where Beggs is all over the stick fretboard, up and down, looking like he’s just playing gibberish, hitting notes at random, but it’s all actually very scientific. Jump Blues is a lot of fun, and Beggs in particular impresses on this number, quietly but firmly laying down all the bass lines. They got a real rock ‘n’ roll swing going on this one.
Levee was thunderous, and the reception rapturous. By now my girlfrind and I were into some serious bumping and grinding. TBL Webman comment: Woooaaaa! There are children reading this! Tidal is now probably my favorite tune off Zooma. I could see a bunch of prog-heads off to the right trying to grok the sneaky beat changes.
They were off for only three, maybe four minutes before they came back with Trampled. By this time there was a lot of dancing going on. Nick pranced, prowled and pounced about, stalking his half of the stage like a man possessed. All three players were very tight-but-loose on the accented beats toward the end (where Robert used to go “push!”). Off for another ninety seconds, maybe, then a rousing Black Dog (with excellent “ah-ahhs” from the audience, I might add–I think Jonesy was impressed too), and it was all over, far too soon.
Afterward everyone regrouped. Everyone agreed it was an amazing show, and then we began to plan how to best accomplish our fanboy mission: meet, shake hands, get autographs. Should we send one crew out back, have one stay by the stage, and one out front? Another friend and I exchanged cell phone numbers . . . and then he disappeared. Unbeknownst to us he had secured access to the private meet-and-greet with JPJ in the upstairs bar, the lucky dog. He called down to me and said JPJ *would* be coming downstairs to talk to us immediately after. This was confirmed to us by Nick Beggs, who appeared from backstage no more than 15 minutes after the show had ended. I chatted a bit with Nick, mentioning that I’d seen them in Boston in the fall and that, while they were certainly good that night, they have really settled into a groove by now. When I added that I thought Smile . . . and the Snake Eyes outro had been particularly well executed, he said that the string section of Snake Eyes is the single most difficult piece of music he’s ever been asked to play. My friend asked how many stick players there are around today, and Nick said only about six or seven professional players. By this time Terl had appeared as well. Terl in particular struck me as a real nice bloke: he told us how he was looking forward to getting back to his wife and three kids. On a more musical note, Frank mentioned that he noticed all three players exchanging approving glances and smiles at various points, and Terl agreed that the band have long since settled into a groove where the foundation is secure enough to allow room for improvisation, little accents, little things that tighten up the arrangements. He said there hadn’t been all that many great surprises in the songs on this night, though. Nick and Terl chatted with quite a few fans and signed autographs, then went to the bar for a beer. I glanced up at the mezzanine bar, and Jonesy was still chatting with the lucky few. Five minutes later the security guards told us there was no point waiting; that all the musicians had left. I immediately said to everyone, This is just a ruse to clear the room; if they had really left, why would these two security goons still be guarding the door to backstage? We were still convinced Jonesy had not left the building, and were even more sure when we went over to the bar to get a last beer, and saw that Nick and Terl were still hanging out. They left quickly a few minutes later, and soon the tour bus was pulling away! We’d been foiled! Jonesy had slipped out another entrance and got straight on the bus, I guess.
I can’t complain. It would have been icing on the cake to shake Jonesy’s hand, thank him for all the years of music, congratulate him on the tour. But we got a pretty scrumptious cake, even without icing. michael gilson

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