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Despite the fact that most people only know that one song he covered that wound up in "Donnie Darko", Gary Jules has four whole albums mostly of original, lyrical, musical work. He's doing a short tour of the Northeast USA for the next couple of months, and last night he stopped in Pittsburgh.
He played at Club Cafe, which is still my favorite venue in Pittsburgh. His warm-up act was the vocalist from (local band?) "Arlo Aldo", and his opener was Mike Bram, who also accompanied him during his set. The warm-up seemed a bit uncomfortable on stage alone, but I'll keep my eyes open for shows with the band. Mike Bram was much more comfortable performing alone, and very entertaining with his classic bluesy stuff.
Gary Jules played a mix of things from his different albums. He did play "Mad World", which I guess people were expecting he would. He also played "Barstool" which is one of my favorites, and a fantastic cover of Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me". Mike Bram was an excellent accompanist on backup vocals and percussion, and a real pro. I hope these two stick together.
Jules had a wonderful way of engaging the (unfairly small) audience during the show and greeted us all on the way out while signing CDs and posters at the merch table. He seems like a great person. I really like the quality of his voice, and the quiet strength of his performance. He also really knows how to use a microphone, which it seems like fewer performers really know these days.
Anyway, compared to the last concert I reviewed, this is a totally different type of music. Where Mogwai is loud and mostly instrumental, Gary Jules is quiet and primarily lyrical; I compare a lot of his stuff to Paul Simon's, playing mostly acoustic guitar while singing. Where Mogwai seems to be using power to blast emotional impressions down into the long bones of your body, Jules is sliding ideas and viewpoints into your brain along the tiny bones in your ears. Despite his reputation as "the patron saint of depressed teenagers", I find most of his work to be upbeat, optimistic, and energetic.
Check out his tour page, and hopefully he's coming to your town soon. Sit down, have a couple of drinks, relax, listen closely, and smile.
2012.06.01 at 12:00pm EDT
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