Live Review: Damien Jurado, Gold Leaves, Bryan John Appleby at The Neptune TheaterPosted by Bebe Besch
Damien Jurado at the Maraqopa album release show at The Neptune Theater (All photos by Bebe Besch)
Friday night, Seattle and Damien Jurado celebrated each other. The Neptune hosted as Damien Jurado took to the stage to debut Maraqopa in its entirety where he played through each song in order as they appear on the album with a few extra songs at the end. Though this was the album release show for Maraqopa and the place to get your hands on the first physical CDs, limited edition green vinyl pressings, or gorgeously designed show posters (by Frida Clements of STG), many devoted fans were already familiar with the exceptionally crafted folk tunes after preordering the album ahead of time.
This is not to say there weren’t surprises during Jurado’s set. Those of us who attended Jurado’s show in September under the name Jacket Summer were privy to many of the songs from Maraqopa prior to the album even having an its official title, but tonight we experienced the songs delivered in a different manner. A handful of times (see the videos below) background singers made up of Seattle local musicians were brought to the stage, which included The Head and the Heart members Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell, Galen Disston of Pickwick, opener Bryan John Appleby, and Jessica Dobson of Deep Sea Diver and more recently The Shins. Also noticeably different was the execution live of Jurado’s songs, which he previously sometimes spent singing solo with acoustic guitar in September’s first performances. This time, for personally my favorite song off of Maraqopa, “Working Titles,” Jurado utilized the background singers listed above as well as his full band made up of Kyle Zantos on duel duties of guitar and iPad, Barry Uhl on keys (of Brother Bear), Brad Stemke on drums and percussion, and Jesse Hurlburt on bass.
Following that mention, while it’s shamed to make a live review a personal endeavor, I must. “Working Titles,” is not only emotionally attachable for any Washington resident; the lyrics create an incredible sense of self-awareness. In the opening verse of the song, Jurado declares, “Many nights you would hide from the audience/When they were not in tune with your progress/In the end you’re a fool like the journalist/Who turns what you’ve seen into business”. In this moment, I cannot help contemplating my choice to review the live performance of an album that I will never be able to comprehend the background of or experiences needed from Jurado, which lead to such brilliance. I will never feel the same ties he holds to these songs. It’s by choice, however, that I’m reviewing this performance without being assigned to, as my point to make is informing others on how profoundly personal the splendor of both listening to the recordings of Maraqopa can be as well as comparing them to Jurado’s live capability to take this album to the ultimate height of impassioned and private effectiveness.
Jurado’s ability to tap into his listener’s secluded emotions is where he’s made his mark over the years. The writing of songs genuine to his own life experiences shares an authenticity that makes connecting to his music effortless. Enormous respect was felt from person to person in the audience at The Neptune Theater as well as from the local performers who joined him in admiration on stage. Humbly, Jurado acknowledged his thanks for making this album release the largest show he has ever played in Seattle, as well as simply expressing “I am so happy,” in response to his fans’ positive reinforcement. Seattle is extremely privileged to have such supportive local music participation, and veritable rarities like Jurado’s music, and Maraqopa deserve cherish indefinitely.
“Life Away From The Garden”:
Another angle of “Working Titles” via Sound on the Sound:
“So On, Nevada”:
Grant Olsen (formerly of Arthur & Yu) took center stage second to perform with his outlet Gold Leaves. After beginning, the energy built from opener Bryan John Appleby’s prior set begun to diminish, however, Olsen instead transitioned the enthusiasm into a closer, more intense experience by briefly speaking between songs as they progressed and constantly making eye contact with audience members. He was joined with other exceptionally talented musicians on stage, including, to his right, Tomo Nakayama (of Grand Hallway) on backing vocals, keys, and guitar. Olsen’s gorgeous vocals flowed over his band members’ collaborative talents, giving us a brief look into the catchiness found in their indie folk/country.
I’ve been a fan of first opener Bryan John Appleby since the release of “Cliffs Along the Sea,” so shockingly tonight was my first of experiencing his music live. Pleasantly the power he and band members Kyle Zantos (the same that performed later with Damien Jurado) Jesse Hurlburt, Joe Ruppert, and Cole Mauro were able to produce through their music was entrancing. Innovation and experimenting amongst unique instruments helped in the development of his 2011 release, Fire on the Vine, which translated into an equally expressive live set. Nearing the end of the performance, Jessica Dobson, as mentioned earlier, came out to help with guitar and backing vocal duties for the song off of Fire on the Vine titled, “The Words of the Revelator,” which you can watch below: