Rickie Lee Jones at the Wildey Theatre, 11/24/12: Review and Setlist

That's how the set moved, shuttling coolly between some of her best-known early work -- though no "Chuck E.'s in Love" -- and her best covers, even some her accompanists didn't remember. "Come on white boy!" Jones called to Willett as he tried to respond to her phrasing on "Love Is Gonna Bring Us Back Alive," a song from Flying Cowboys she had taught him in the car. When she turned to the baby grand piano for the first time she chose the second song on her first album, "On Saturday Afternoons in 1963," one of her purest reveries of passing youth. She contemplated the simple refrain "years may go by" and smiled a little, letting Willett stretch out on the cello, because in moments like that she still feels she has all the years ahead of her, not behind.

"We forgot our light show," she said and gestured at the blank screen behind her; then it filled with red light. "Don't worry, that's not the future." What did she ever mean by that? No one knew, so she chose "We Belong Together," a song "we haven't done much before," because it was the last show of the U.S. tour. The great solidarity in shared loneliness, the shared young-blood outsiderness of her theme, of all her themes, rang true, especially in the dark slur given to the "only angel who sees us now," the one who "watches through each other's eyes." She played the song for deep, deep keeps.

It would be hard to imagine a better setlist or a better duo to back her -- Pevar again and again teased out faint, weird sounds a Telecaster isn't known to make -- what with "The Horses," a song of hope and protection for a daughter, sailing into the ad-libbed lines "Looking for redemption, it goes on and on," repeated like a spontaneous Van Morrison vocal riff, and then straight into the scariest place on Earth, "Coolsville," also played on the piano, with long, slow chords and falsetto wails that pricked like a remembered junkie's needle.

No one can sing like that, certainly not as she sang on "Last Chance Texaco," her final song -- no encore, though the room stood to applaud over the house music for a good five minutes -- with her streaming-by siren wails, a pluck and pull on guitars and cello, orchestrated by an artist who will not go quietly -- no matter how quietly she played -- into the night.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal bias: This was just my second time seeing Jones in person. The first was a video taping at SXSW 2007, an utterly staged set, one I can barely remember now. Her Wildey show won't be so forgotten.

Overheard: Next to nothing. Everyone in the hall was stunned to silence.

Setlist:

Sympathy for the Devil
Danny's All-Star Joint
Seems Like a Long Time
Weasel and the White Boys Cool
Altar Boy
Cycles
It Must Be Love
Young Blood
Catch the Wind
On Saturday Afternoons in 1963
The Horses
Coolsville
We Belong Together
Show Biz Kids
Love Is Gonna Bring Us Back Alive
Lap Dog
Last Chance Texaco


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2 comments
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RoyK
RoyK

Thanks for the kinds words, pickett!

pickettusa
pickettusa

It was a great show. My third time seeing her but this time, within the intimate confines of the Wildey, I felt as if Rickie Lee had come into my living room to perform. This was not just a concert but a gift to all that were there. Great article Roy! Your description is spot on and I can't wait to share it with others.

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