Published Oct 06, 2018The unvarnished charm that Jonathan Richman exuded during his performance at Up+Dt Festival was enough to vaporize any trace of pretence and completely enrapture the audience. His stage was adorned more sparsely than most buskers, with only a mixing board that Richman adjusted himself, a nylon string guitar that was not plugged in, a microphone, a couple of maracas, some sleigh bells, and longtime drummer Tommy Larkins, with his modest kit. The most sincere thrills come lacking any glossy frills.
There was no set list taped to the floor of the stage either. Richman remained true to humble form, free to follow his quixotic impulses as he switched languages spontaneously between English, French, Spanish and Italian, walked away from the microphone to sing directly to the front few rows of people, and at times stopped playing altogether, dancing instead while Larkins faithfully kept up the beat.
Loose by intention, a missed note or wrong chord drew endearing, comically apologetic gazes from Richman. "I Was Dancing at the Lesbian Bar" inspired the loudest communal sing along of the hour-long set, but the enchantment lasted right up until Richman recited a few lines from a poem as an artfully Spartan close, and bid a polite good-bye.