Last night I Lyfted over to The Fox Theater in downtown Oakland to be my friend L’s guest at the Joanna Newsom show. I would have taken BART but fell asleep in the afternoon and only woke up 45 minutes before show time. Sleeping through any part the show would have been tragic as it was the best show I’ve seen in a long fucking time.
My friend has a quick trigger finger and when she selected “Best Available” at the regular price the day tickets went on sale, she ended up with the best seats I have ever experienced. We were in the second row in the middle! I looked around for celebrities but we were definitely the hottest people occupying those VIP chairs.
Joanna Newsom is weird. She’s great weird. She plays the pedal harp and a grand piano. She sings in a vulnerable (baby) voice. Her lyrics are obscure (dislodged motes of sand, selfhood inverting on a mirror in an Amora Obscura). Her music is scholarly. Her support play a myriad of instruments single-handedly (guitar, tabura, naval, recorder, bass, banjo, keyboards, trombone, and violin).
She moved quickly between songs. I was blown away. I didn’t feel challenged by or left out of the experience. I was all in. It was breathtaking. Woo hoos and a heartfelt standing ovation were well earned. Her latest album is Divers. My favorite Joanna Newsom song will always be Emily and all it’s profundity on 2006’s Ys. I like when it takes the dark turn after the first 4 minutes and she gets growly.