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Home » John Paul Jones

Roxy Theatre, Atlanta

20 March 2000 2,047 views No Comment

The Roxy is a small venue that holds, I’m guessing, around 700-800 people. There is no seating on the floor, and seating in the balcony. I knew from seeing Eric Johnson there a few years ago, if I got there early enough, I’d have a good shot at being near the stage. The stage is only about nut high for me, so you really get up close and personal; no bouncers or barriers between you and the stage. As the show started at 8:30, I figured I should be there by 6:30. There is a parking lot right next to the Roxy, so when I got out of my car, I could actually hear the sound check! I headed over by a dumpster, where the side door to the theater was open, and listened to them warm-up for 15 minutes or so. I knew at that point, it was going to be a special show, as they were really kicking ass! I was amazed, as I was the first one there! Got into line 30 mins later at 7:00, and by then there were about 15 other diehards there. The doors opened at 7:30, and I made the mad dash for the stage. 2/3 of the front row was full but they obviously didn’t understand by the equipment set-up, that JP was on the left side (his lap steel should have been a dead give away) so I waltzed down to the spot directly in front of where he was playing the rest of the night. We are talking 3-4 feet here… I was so excited.
We all waited for the next hour, and I was amazed at how young most of the front row was.
The show started right on time, with JPJ in all black, and the stick player in his trademark kilt. I brought my camera, even though it said “no cameras” on the ticket, hoping they wouldn’t be paying much attention. Well, they were, and after several shots that would have been amazing, I felt the tap of the security guy, who promptly took my film, and battery! They played the same set as they did in ’99 (Zooma, plus No Quarter, When the Levee Breaks, Trampled Underfoot, Black Dog, Crackback and Spaghetti Junction; only the jams were longer, and tighter. They added more Zep tunes though, with an unbelievable version of Nobody’s Fault But Mine, and a simply stunning version of Going to California…performed as a mandolin solo! It was probably the most awesome moment of the evening. After that, instead of dropping it, he went straight into a blues based solo on the mandolin (with a That’s The Way intro but when it came time for the lyrics, he said “don’t expect me to sing”!), and I never thought one mandolin could make that big of sound…he played it like Jimmy plays the Les Paul! It was also really amazing to watch him do the triple neck solo, as I was so close (I could have reached out and touched the laptop that was controlling the loops and sequencing) it was especially cool to see how he constructed his own, acoustic “guitar army” a la Jimmy.
The crowd was great; he seemed very relaxed, and the whole vibe was very cool. When he mentioned Zooma and Scream For Help, the guys behind me help them up, prompting him to call our area “the graphics section”!The band really seemed to be enjoying themselves.
It’s impossible to describe all the little looks they gave each other as one or the other were giving a mind boggling solo. The synchronicity of the band was a thing to behold. After the encores, I immediately headed out back, where I waited with about 30-40 other people for about 50 minutes. Security came out twice, and said the band was doing a “meet and greet” and it would be a longer wait than usual. I knew from the reviews I had been reading on the internet, that we had about a 75% chance of him doing autographs. He said he likes to do them whenever possible but is turned off by the pushy, professional autograph guys, who want to make money on the stuff. Everyone seemed really cool though, and there was no line or anything, just people hanging out. The guy next to me got tired of standing, and sat on a concrete ledge to the side. Looking like a good idea, I joined him and we talked for a bit. When security came out, they asked everyone to form a line, and that due to their travel schedule, JP could not stay long. It was weird but as everyone formed a line, and we stood up, I was the first person in it!
I was trying to be calm, and get out my cd inserts (Zooma, Never Mind The Reunion-JPJ bootleg, and a picture of JPJ from Antrabata’s Arabesque & Baroque-The Second Night…I kicked myself all night for forgetting my paper sleeve Scream For Help, and never thought about my ticket stub until later) and at that moment, he walked out to the sound of everyone cheering, and said “hello”! I am proud to say I wasn’t the babbling idiot I was afraid I’d be, and told him I really loved the show, and Zooma. He started signing my stuff, and I told him I had not seen him live since 1977 in the Kingdome, and hoped it would not be that long before I saw him again! The security person said I was dating myself, and I told a smiling JP, that based on the age of the people in front row, I was one of the elders of the group (I’m almost 40). He smiled and said “how do you think I feel?!” He stopped, and looked real hard at the boot insert I had, turned it over, looking at the photo of Jimmy on the other side (he knew what it was, and just smiled with a little shake of his head!) and I mentioned I was really fond of the Earl’s Court shows, where that photo was taken from (I think), and that it was a pity the manufacturers of these little goodies didn’t put more photos of him and on the artwork. He just smiled, and signed it. I asked him if he was going to put out any live audio/video from the tour, and he said they might, as they had been taping some of the shows, if he could find the time. I told him there were a lot of us who sincerely hoped he would, and as he finished, we shook hands, and he patted me on the shoulder, and thanked me for my kind comments. Sometimes when you meet someone you admire, you wish you hadn’t, as they can be jerks. But JP was very soft spoken, polite, and seemed like a down to earth, good guy. A memorable evening to be sure!

Phil Weber

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