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Home » John Paul Jones

La Zona Rosa, Austin, Texas

18 March 2000 2,251 views No Comment

Set List: Zooma/Grind/Smile Of Your Shadow/Going To California (begins w/That’s The Way excerpt)//Steel Away/When The Levee Breaks/B Fingers/Nobody’s Fault But Mine/Black Dog

JPJ made the most of an unusual situation in Austin last Saturday night before a capacity crowd of 1200. First, a little background: South By Southwest is an annual music industry festival with the stated purpose of showcasing unsigned or unheralded bands for industry figures. Although begun with noble intentions, over time the festival has become co-opted by the industry such that more-established artists now appear. This worked to our benefit this year, since JPJ is the kind of “dinosaur” that this festival styles itself as disdaining. In any event, JPJ received little or no publicity and, owing to the showcase nature of the festival, was allotted only an hour for his performance. However, Saturday night at La Zona Rosa is a very prestigious slot at SXSW, so we were only mildly perturbed at the slight. Badgeholder Chris Barbero arrived early and secured a place in line, ensuring us access to a very large, packed venue. Because of the short set and the need to clear the stage quickly, the road crew was unable to set up JPJ’s keyboards, so we knew we wouldn’t be hearing No Quarter or Trampled Underfoot, not to mention Spaghetti Junction. Accordingly, Chris and I anticipated some surprises, and we were not disappointed.
The show started off with a bang as the band tore into spirited versions of Zooma and Grind. The audience (probably the largest crowd ever for a JPJ show) was initially a general-interest crowd but was quickly converted by the bedrock grooves of this double-whammy introduction. A gentle reading of Smile Of Your Shadow established dynamic balance and allowed everyone to look at their neighbors as if to say “Damn! This is better than I expected!”; it also allowed the gearheads in attendance to exchange envious comments about JPJ’s amazing basses (Hugh would have been proud).
JPJ donned his mandolin for the next number, his now-familiar arrangement of Going to California, which seemed to go over very well with the crowd, even if many couldn’t place the exact song – I heard more than one listener refer to it as Battle Of Evermore. JPJ didn’t disappoint. Doffing the mandolin and moving to the slide bass for Steel Away, backed by Terl and Nick, JPJ played half of the song on lead mandolin before quickly switching instruments so that Nick could have a turn at lead/melody. This number alone was worth the drive and interminable wait.
Next up was a Jurassic version of When The Levee Breaks with the expected rabid crowd reaction, followed by B Fingers, which was also well received. I later learned that these songs are suspected to have caused the North American Plate to scrape hard against the Pacific Plate, causing tremors in California and a spurt of molten basalt from tired old Mount St. Helens. Pictures at eleven. TBL/Webmam comment: Oh dear, get a little carried away are we David??!!
Nobody’s Fault But Mine and Black Dog rounded out the show. Nobody’s Fault But Mine was the most successful piece of the evening and the now-converted throng roared its approval. By this point the crowd was so unabashedly receptive that a even a mistake-filled Black Dog couldn’t dispel the magic. We immediately tore around back to the bus for autographs or at least a handshake, but, as Chris has noted, the vibes were somewhat menacing. Perhaps observing the maxim “vibes are real”, JPJ refused to show his face. I’m beginning to perceive that the autograph hounding is very tiresome and even upsetting to JPJ, so I think this was my last time to pursue same. Collector’s note: this show was openly recorded, videotaped and photographed by scores of attendees, including professionally, so it will be sure to circulate in due course.

David Montgomery

Venue Information and festival Info- JPJ played at the La Zona Rosa club as part of the South by Southwest music festival. This festival is held in Austin every spring and is attended heavily by industry types wanting to sign new bands as well as fans. There is usually a couple of big names playing the festival to draw attention. Luckily for me this also coincided with the Austin Record Convention which is massive. LZR is a open air barn type of venue with a large bar in back, a patio and bar area and a side area with pool tables and another bar. Estimated capacity is 1500-2000. Needless to say this was a highly anticipated show as the club was packed to the rafters with industry heavies and every musician in town that was not playing at other clubs during that time slot. JP of course knew this as he said hello to the Butthole Surfers from the stage and basically the pressure was on to show where he is at this point in his life. There were four bands on the show with each allotted an hour to play there set. This needs to be said. Terry Bozzio opened with a solo drum exhibition from 9-10 that absolutely had the place going bonkers, what a superb performance by easily one of the best drummers in the world. From 10-11 I do not know who played as I had to retreat to the patio for a Guinness. At 10:45 I made my way to about the tenth row in front of JP’s lapsteel and watched Andy set up and Nick warm up on the touch guitar. There were no keyboards or computers set up for this show because of the quick changeover between sets, so this was a by the seat of there pants one off festival appearance. Andy came out and placed the set list down stage right and then the band filed in. Zooma started the set and let everyone know where he stood at this point in time. The sound was not as loud as in Houston but was very clear. People were stunned by the stick work by Nick(what the F%#@ is that) and the heavy sound of the 12 string bass with the LED’s lighting up the frets. Next Grind followed with the cool repetitive riff at the beginning. Next was Smile with the Mandola beginning and introduction of Andy before the song, when he came out for a bow jp playfully shoooed him off stage. JP slid right over to the lapsteel for the first taste of this instrument of the evening, eliciting howls of approval as the sinewy sounds of the lapsteel washed over the hall. At this time a point needs to be made, JP was not nearly as loose as in Houston maybe the pressure of a limited time slot or the expectation level of the crowd but he still affable. Next the Mandolin was brought out and after the customary That’s The Way Tease and comment about THAT BAND he went into Going To California, unfortunately the mandolin mike was not turned on for the first minute drawing shouts of turn on the mike to the sound man, finally he found the button and JP really played this great, great fingerpicking and comments of I didn’t Know he played that part. A note, it seems people do not realize the acoustic contributions of JP to the zep sound, of course if you are not into live recordings you probably wouldn’t, people were kinda shocked, but not nearly as shocked as they soon would be. Next was You Shook Me with the mandolin taking the first solo were the harp solo would be followed by the slide over to the lapsteel for the last solo and finish. B Fingers came next and what a display from Nick totally all over the instrument. Lets take a moment to talk of the drummer for a minute, although I didn’t catch his name through two shows he is definitely a force to be dealt with and played great at both shows I witnessed. Next followed Nobodys Fault But Mine, not quite the crunch from the sound system as the houston show but still got some heads banging. JP only took one solo this show but still sang the lyrics well on the lapsteel. JP looked at the drummer as if to say we are going to cut the song a bit short this evening and led him into the finale. Next When the Levee Breaks kept the crowd pumped all the way through followed directly by a great version of Black Dog and JP hitting all of the high notes of the lyrics with no problem just like the album. That was it no encores as the stage was cleared for the next act who I could not possibly witness because of being totally rung out by 7 hours at the convention, cruising the clubs on 6th street and the nervous anticipation of not knowing whether we could even access the venue for the show. Admission was only $15. What a deal. In retrospect the chance to see THE MAN twice in 3 days was an incredible experience. Unfortunately for Austin he was part of the festival thus robbing a great music town of the chance to see JP’s full show but no one seemed disappointed including myself (of course many did not know what they had missed.) As for John Paul WOW he is really making a statement on this tour. I stood there watching with pride as people who had never seen zeppelin live were pummeled into submission by the fact that JP was just as integral part of their sound as anyone. One final note, it was very satisfying to witness such a great master musician from a time long gone by return with such force. His modesty and shyness was very apparent and people were genuinely moved by his performances. Thanks for one of the most memorable three days of my life John Paul!

Stephen Christensen

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