The Jayhawks Live at Royale – Boston, MA

The Jayhawks are the epitome of musical chemistry – demonstrated through an all-encompassing set heralding an era of forward motion and Proustian reflection.

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Gary Louris of The Jayhawks

“The grapes, bitter / I’m no quitter / revolutions come one by one,” fans of The JayhawksSound of Lies (1997) will recall Gary Louris proclaiming on “Big Star.”  Since their 1985 inception, legions have raised the band to canonical status.  With the recent release of Paging Mr. Proust, that revolution is now.  Tonight, spirited fans flock to the Royale nightclub to usher in this new adventure.

[RELATED: check out more live concert and festival coverage from Performer.]

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Cue the chorus of applause.  Distinct opening chords of “Waiting for the Sun” resound – flowing into the melodic, driving hook of “Leaving the Monsters Behind” – a Proust standout.  The ‘60s dreamscape “Lovers of the Sun” and the sultry, ‘70s-inspired “Comeback Kids” fit comfortably within fan-favorites that include “Somewhere in Ohio,” the luminous “Trouble,” and “Blue.”

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The Jayhawks deliver a shimmering, all-encompassing set at Royale in Boston on June 13th– with splashes of color supplied by Karen Grotberg’s keyboard stylings and vocal harmonies, and Marc Perlman’s bass lines.  A masterful singer-songwriter, Louris’ gift for melody is showcased throughout the evening.  A midway detour into hypnotic psychedelia, the near-instrumental “Ace” is a barn-burning jam – a dirty and groovy opportunity for Louris to let loose.  But not before seductively crooning: “I don’t need no mere companion / lying here in a boat of desire / don’t disappoint me.”  Following, drummer Tim O’Reagan takes a heartfelt lead vocal for “Tampa to Tulsa” before a full-band launch into the latest single, “Quiet Corners and Empty Spaces.”

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Later, during a five-song encore, the band remained as animated as ever.  “I’m gonna make you love me,” Louris’ sings.  There is no “making” us love The Jayhawks.  We just do.

Opening act Folk Uke is the musical collaboration of Cathy Guthrie (ukulele) and Amy Nelson (acoustic guitar).  At first glance, the daughters of Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson appear ethereal amidst lifting melodies and simple chord progressions – that is, until you do an aural double take and realize how politically incorrect [and at times, dark] their lyrics are.  It is this clever marriage of two styles that places them on the “must watch” list.

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