Mrs. Devereaux is a huge Thompson fan (both Richard and Teddy) and I’m also a fan of both and have a crush on Shawn Colvin, so this was a good concert for both of us. Plus, it was at City Winery, one of the best places for live music in NYC.
Mrs. Devereaux and I were sitting across from each other and there was man on her right and a woman on my left who each were alone. The woman introduced herself to the man and they were talking and then one of them mentioned Teddy and Mrs. Devereaux’s and my ears prick up and she starts a conversation with the man about the Leonard Cohen tribute concert the night before and the woman and I were talking about seeing live music in NYC. Then two guys at the table next to us hear Mrs. Devereaux’s conversation, so she whips out her phone and starts sharing photos and names of the performers from the tribute show. Before that night’s show began, when I went downstairs to use the bathroom, I caught sight of the opening act practicing in the private room and immediately recognized Leslie Mendelson from the night before. And when I went downstairs again at the end of the show Mendelson, Jesse Lauter (producer of the tribute show), and a friend were telling others what they’d missed by not being at the Leonard Cohen tribute show. Like I’d said – it may have been the show of the year even though it was only January.
Mendelson was joined onstage by Steve McEwan. Both were playing acoustic guitars. From the previous night, I already knew that Mendelson had a pretty voice. I liked what she did with The Pretenders’ “Don’t Get Me Wrong” by slowing it down. Other songs were quiet – there was “Jericho,” “Easy Love,” and “Murder Me” among other songs. I didn’t find anything special about the songwriting or playing but I do like Mendelson’s voice.
Shawn Colvin came out and did a beautiful haunting version of Paul Simon’s “American Tune” that was perfect for this time and left me crying and with chills. Richard Thompson came out and performed “Waltzing’s for Dreamers” with Colvin backing him up. Colvin said that that was about as cheery as it was going to get. Thompson said that we’ve got slow sensitive songs and fast sensitive songs (at least I think that’s what he said – I can’t read my handwriting). After that they each took turns with the other providing back-up. Colvin did “Tennessee,” which is a song that Thompson provided the guitar solo on the record. Thompson did “Beatnik Walking,” which he’d written in Holland while touring that country with Colvin. Once again, I was so impressed with Thompson’s guitar playing – he is phenomenal. Colvin did a song about a relationship that never was, “The Facts About Jimmy.” Thompson did a song about abject poverty, “Oh I Swear,” (Colvin: “Enjoy!”) that was written for the BBC’s Hard Cash but was too leftwing to broadcast. It did end up on the soundtrack album. Colvin did Tom Waits’ “Hold On.” Thompson and Colvin traded verses on his and Linda’s “A Heart Needs a Home.” Throughout Colvin and Thompson shared harmonies and choruses for most of the songs. Colvin “tuned D to E and got droney like Thompson” for “Diamond in the Rough.” Thompson’s “Crocodile Tears” was supposed to be funny and with lyrics like “but crocodiles do it much better, they’re much more humane and forgiving,” it was funny. Colvin followed with “He’s the Man,” the song she performed as Rachel Jordan in The Simpsons (“just let God be your Triple-A, He’ll tow you to salvation”) and then did “I Don’t Know Why.” Thompson finished the set with a song that is “happy in a tragic way,” “Wall of Death.” For their encore, Colvin sang The Band’s “Acadian Driftwood” and Thompson sang “Keep Your Distance.”
It was an incredible evening of music – lyrically, vocally, and musically – everything came together and it was perfect.
By Carene Lydia Lopez