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Home » John Paul Jones

Lakewood Civic, Cleveland, OH

30 November 2001 2,147 views No Comment

John Paul Jones hit the stage almost exactly at 8pm. Arriving to the ominous drowns and moans foreshadowing “Zooma”, JPJ burst into the title track of his first solo album. I’m sure I don’t have to describe to anyone who is reading this the instant intensity of his bass sound! After seeing JPJ in 1999 at the Odeon in Cleveland, his high quality performance did not surprise me (He is so talented). While I cannot remember the exact order of his set list, I’m positive I can convey to you my experience at the show.
The new tracks off “The Thunderthief” sounded great. “Leafy Meadows” was introduced as “a track off the album to be released in February”. JPJ found humor in the audience’s instant acceptance for the tune by remarking that “the album hasn’t even come out yet, how could you know about it?”.
Of JPJ’s 1hr. 5 min. set, I immensely enjoyed 1hr. and 5 min. of it! “That’s the Way” was exceptional, featuring JPJ on lead vocals. The biggest surprise of the night was his voice. While he was not overpowering like Plant, his voice was subdued, almost that of a folk singer. He simply sounded very good. I believe the explanation for his poor back-up vocals on “Battle” during the ’77 tour can be attributed to those vocal parts being totally out of his range. But what a treat to hear JPJ play the mandolin part of “That’s the Way” live!
Following “That’s the Way”, a soulful instrumental version of “Steel Away” which sounded much like a combination of “Since I’ve Been Loving You/I Can’t Quit You/You Shook Me”. It was strange and great to hear JPJ crank the blues on the mandolin. Midway through the song, he switched over to steel guitar and left the crowd in awe, as he displayed some skillful playing. Other songs performed from Zooma included; “B Fingers” and “Tidal”.
The nonmusical highlight of the night was when a friend who accompanied me to the show blurted: “You don’t need Page and Plant”. John Paul replied by remarking, “I don’t want Page and Plant.. Jimmy who?”. The crowd was amused by his response.
JPJ used his voice again for “Freedom Song”. He dedicated it to the late George Harrison, who passed away from cancer the previous morning. Accompanying himself on what looked to be a small Eukalalie, JPJ’s voice again sounded extremely acceptable. The audience seemed to relate to the song’s lyrical content which dealt with longing being free from such modern day hassles as ‘”faxes” and “taxes”.
Overall, JPJ looked young and vibrant on stage. Often between songs he joked with the audience and really tried to wake up the crowd. (Which I can only describe as being lame and uninterested). I recall one instance where he jokingly played his mandolin over his back, in an attempt to draw a response. Most importantly JPJ appears to be having great fun with his return to playing smaller venues.
JPJ also performed his recent augmented versions of such Zeppelin standards as, “When the Levee Breaks” and his lone encore; “Black Dog”. “Levee” drew an expected response from the crowd. Playing the lap steel guitar again, JPJ got the crowd moving for the first time. I urge you to go and see his show, so you can better appreciate the talent and heaviness of his set.
The encore; “Black Dog” was preceded by JPJ’s “In My Time of Dying” tease on steel guitar. Playing the lyrics on the steel guitar, JPJ and his “orchestra” gave the crowd not only a tune they could relate to, but an intense musical representation of the classic that JPJ himself developed the riff for.
As expected a great show. I wish it would have lasted all night, but as we’re learning more and more these days, “all things must pass”. The show was worth the 5 hour trip from school to witness. JPJ is doing what he loves doing…playing great music. He is obviously not concerned with the monetary benefits of a widely commercialized tour. As my friend Ryan Elliott pointed out, JPJ’s musical ventures of the last 3 years have seemingly defied the roles of Page and Plant. Think about it… no guitarist, but a “Chapman Stick” player. No vocals parts (until this tour), but vocal sections being portrayed instrumentaly,through his playing. I will not lie when I say I long to see a Page/Plant/Jones reunion, but JPJ said it himself when he said, “I don’t want Page and Plant”. Folks, if you haven’t already, go see JPJ! Carl Borgione &>

There were no cameras allowed, and I knew that when I brought mine, but I had only brought it in hopes of meeting JPJ after the show. One of the roadies checked me as I entered and I explained the situation. The other security guys had already told everyone that “the band” would walk right off the stage if they saw a flash in the audience. The roadie let me through even so, and I thanked him. There were no metal detectors. Once inside, there were only two JPJ items for sale – Zooma and a T-shirt with John Paul Jones 2001 (2001 written in same style as his website) with the dates on the back. I made my way to my seat – 7th row, stage right. There was a small “pit” area with 3 rows of chairs that had been brought in. I didn’t like the location, even though it was close. I was surrounded by older Crimson fans for the entire row. I noticed the pit seats were not filling up rapidly. I figured this guy was the one to approach about an upgrade. I explained to a member of staff that I only wanted to stay up front for the opening band and he agreed if the seats didn’t fill up by then. I waited till the lights went down and entered the first row of the center section of seats behind the 3 rows of pit seats.
I think this has been discussed on the list before, but I can’t stand sitting down for a rock concert. It just feels weird. When I saw John Paul at the Odeon in 1999, it wasn’t a problem because it was a night club and everyone had to stand. By the end of Leafy Meadows, I was standing. By When the Levee Breaks, a few people asked me to sit down. One guy was pretty adamant, but I wasn’t going to be pushed around. If this guy wasn’t into it, then that was his problem. I explained, “Sir – Led Zeppelin broke up the year before I was born. I never saw them, and I will be DAMNED if I SIT DOWN for JOHN PAUL JONES. I am not kidding – no one else was standing. I must have looked like an idiot because I’m normally kind of a stiff guy, but I was trying to jam out and I was dancing just a little when I thought it was an appropriate song.TBL/Web Comment: Try that in the UK at a sit-down gig!!
Before what people have been calling “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, Steel Away, and/or Sittin n’ Thinkin’, it sounded as if John Paul teased “Battle of Evermore”. Whatever the next song was (I can see why people think it IS SIBLY, but I wasn’t convinced, I think it was played on electric mandolin. I don’t know my instruments, so I can’t be sure. I already knew from TBL that most of my favorites from Zooma (Nosumi Blues, Goose, Grind, and Snake Eyes) would be missing from the setlist, but I was pleased with the selections. I like B. Fingers A LOT better live than just listening to Zooma. Applause for the numbers was (aside from myself) less than raucous even for WTLB. Enthusiastic, but tempered. Give me a crowd of wild Zeppelinites over that crowd any day. John Paul seemed to be in good spirits despite crowd reaction and interaction and was joking with Nick and Terl a lot, or so it appeared to me.
Right around the time that guy told me to sit down there was a lot of confusion with seating and people had to show their tickets. I knew this was bad news, and it was. I ended up far, far, far stage right for mid-WTLB and beyond. I was pretty ticked. The malaise of the audience continued, although I had moved to a spot where a woman and her companion, who was unfortunately in a wheelchair, seemed to be rocking out pretty well to Jonsey’s material.
In regard to the new material, I liked the acoustic songs. The first new song of the night seemed just a tad on the too-repetitive side, but the last one played on (I think) electric mandolin – that one I REALLY liked. Can’t wait to hear the studio version.
Jones made several jokes about the size of his instruments, some of which were very small. I heard comments in the audience like, “my 10-year-old’s guitar is bigger than that thing!”
With the crowd so out of it, anyone who might take it upon themselves to yell out something could be heard quite well. There was an almost eerie silence between the songs. Someone shouted out, “You don’t NEED Page and Plant!!” Jones heard this remark and said something to the effect that “Well, I don’t HAVE Page and Plant” and then something else that I couldn’t make out. If this show was taped, I would like to see if I can hear some of his comments throughout the show more clearly.
No one sang along with Black Dog, which seemed to cause John some concern, but I think by that time he wasn’t expecting any miracles. After he brought the JPJ orchestra out to the front and took a bow, I headed to the mixing board and asked for a copy of the setlist, but I was informed that the guys had “notes” on it and I wouldn’t be able to get it. The other guy told me he doesn’t use one.
I went outside and managed to cut through the building to the other side right in front of the buses when some guy came out of a door and I grabbed it before it shut. I found myself on the other side of the security tape in front of one of the three buses. I lasted quite a while looking inconspicuous before I was told to move to the other side. First, Nick Beggs came out. I waved and said, “Hi, Nick” while brandishing Zooma’s CD booklet in my left hand. I was only slowly approaching the tape when the guard sitting in his car came out and asked me what I thought I was doing and moved me back further. I don’t know what the deal was there. Perhaps I look like a crazed fan. Not really buying that though. John Paul came out just a bit later and he was flanked by two security guys. While I had been waiting longest, I still managed to be third in line. One guy in front of me caused JPJ some slight displeasure by holding up a stack of all Zep’s vinyl albums for signature. John wasn’t happy, but he signed dutifully.
John had dedicated Freedom Song (a really nice song that took on what may be quite a different mood because of the circumstances than it might normally) to George Harrison, simply saying “This is for George. It’s called ‘Freedom Song’.” When someone said something to him after the show, he just said in a very heartfelt way that it had been a sad day.
By the time I got up to him, I was so damn nervous that all the things that went through my mind to say beforehand just vanished. I didn’t talk to him about everyone sitting down, or whether there was any chance of a new official live Zeppelin release, or why he didn’t play Nosumi Blues (or even that it was a favorite of mine). No, by that time I had cracked and I only managed to gesture and mumble that I’d very much like to shake his hand. He did, looking a slight bit amused. I handed him the Zooma booklet and a Sharpie marker and asked him if I had heard an Evermore tease after That’s The Way. He stood back a moment and said, “Battle of Evermore?” I withheld my usually quick sarcasm (no – the other one). He seemed genuinely puzzled and maybe even intrigued while saying, “huh – maybe – I dunno” in such a manner as I thought he may have been thinking “did I really do that or is this guy just an idiot?” All in all, a pretty good experience.

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