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Home » John Paul Jones

Lisner Auditorium,, Washington DC

12 December 2001 2,349 views No Comment

My wife, Mary and I attended this show just to see The John Paul Jones Orchestra. We didn’t plan to, nor did we stay, to see King Crimson perform. Instead, we went out to get an autograph and a quick word with JPJ. More on that later. The setlist didn’t change from the last few shows, but I’ll recap it anyway.
For those that care, JPJ took the stage wearing black pants, a burgundy shirt and an open black vest. Nick Beggs, the guy playing that wild instrument, the Chapman stick, wore his usual uniform, a solid black kilt-like garment and a black sleeveless vest-like top, long white socks and black boots. Terl Bryant, the drummer, wore normal, more casual type attire, jeans and a t-shirt.
The show starts with purple lights and some smoke on stage. JPJ starts on a bass that has lights on the fret board. Same bass he used during the Zooma tour. The acoustics in Lisner Auditorium are very good and you can feel the vibrations from the hard driving bass during Zooma. I was holding one of the flyers for The Thunderthief and could feel the paper vibrating from the sound. All the instruments were audible and the mix seemed very good. The crowd, which is mostly made up of King Crimson’s fans, flocks to their seats once Zooma is shaking the place. Must have been sold out or close to it, as the place is full; Lisner seats around 1,500. Mostly, purple, red and white lights were used and fit well with the music. I’m not one for wild light shows nor slide shows of images or psychedelic stuff, so I was glad there was none of that.
Next up is a new song off of The Thunderthief, JPJ still on a bass guitar, and if I remember correctly, this track is similar in sound to tracks off Zooma. After that they play one of Mary’s favorites, The Smile Of Your Shadow. JPJ starts on the bass guitar and then moves to the lap steel. It’s obvious he really enjoys playing that thing as he gets quite animated while on it. Hugh Manson, the guy that makes all those awesome instruments, brings JPJ a really beautiful electric mandolin. Nick puts down the stick in favor of an Ovation acoustic guitar, and Terl moves out front from behind his drum kit to play a bodrhan. Nick and Terl provide backing vocals as JPJ debuts on lead vocals for That’s The Way. The way he sang, in his own style, reminded me of how Chris Robinson sang LZ songs during the Page/Black Crowes tour with neither trying to copy Robert Plant. That’s The Way was very good and I could imagine how great it was to see LZ perform this during the acoustic part of their concerts. Maybe in the future we will see The John Paul Jones Orchestra expand on this and play a longer acoustic set. I certainly hope so.
JPJ stays on the mandolin for the start of Steel Away and moves back to the lap steel to finish that off. Staying on the lap steel, we get a bit of You Shook Me before a heavy and very well received When The Levee Breaks. With the sounds he gets out that thing, it’s no wonder he seems to enjoy playing it so much. Then JPJ is on a bass guitar, the 10 string I believe, for B Fingers. I don’t even know how he plays those riffs. Try watching his fingers move for this. No wonder the title. JPJ solos on vocals and acoustic ukulele for Freedom Song. Fast paced vocals, I couldn’t pick out all the words. I wonder if the lyrics will be on the CD insert. JPJ made some joke about Hugh handing him that little ukulele but he masters it pretty easily. During the lead-in part, the audience tries to clap to the beat but that ends pretty quickly. Hugh trades him an electric ukulele for the acoustic one and wow the sound that comes out of that thing. The amp had to be turned up all the way. Hoediddle is one of the songs off The Thunderthief and sounds like it has some Celtic influence. JPJ back on a bass guitar for Tidal, one of my favorite’s off Zooma. The orchestra gets a very well deserved standing ovation as they head off the stage. A few minutes pass before they are back. JPJ on the lap steel playing a bit of In My Time of Dying that leads into Black Dog. More bows during another standing ovation and it’s over.
The crowd applauded the loudest for the few Zeppelin numbers, but several other songs were very well received. We left immediately and were the first people waiting outside near their bus. After 5-10 minutes, a few more people showed up. There was one guy in his 20s that hadn’t seen the show but was just an autograph collector. I think he had every LZ vinyl album cover in his bag. Two guys (guitar player and drummer), around 40, that had played in a LZ tribute band were outside waiting. The one guy just wanted his ticket stub signed; he has a collection of them. In all there were about 10 of us waiting. We watched as Hugh Manson led the effort to load the band’s gear into a small U-haul trailer that was hitched to the back of the bus. I got about 45 seconds to chat with Hugh and get his autograph on one of The Thunderthief flyers. Really nice guy, wish I could talk to him some more about making those instruments for JPJ. During the last tour, after the end of a concert, Hugh handed Mary one of JPJ’s guitar picks off the lap steel.
I would say it was about 30 minutes before JPJ came out. The few people wanting autographs surrounded him. I got his signature on the insert from the BBC Sessions CD. The autograph seeker had a camera and had someone take a picture of him with JPJ. I think JPJ signed his whole stack of Zeppelin album covers and the one other guy got his ticket stub signed. I heard someone ask if there would be a tour next year but didn’t hear a reply.
Mike Tompkins

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