Saturday night Jon McLaughlin brought his tour to Stage One at the Fairfield Theater in Fairfield, CT.
Opening for him was Jeff LeBlanc, who I saw last month opening for Lee DeWyze. While I think Jeff’s set was similar to what he had done last time, his stories and anecdotes about his songs were a bit different and he was just as enjoyable. After the show he told me he’d be laying low working on his new record, but would be doing a big release show in NYC once it was done. Hopefully I will be able to see him again after it is released!
Jon was scheduled to come out at 8:15, but everything started late and he came on stage closer to 9pm. He played quite a set – nearly 2 hours of music and stories. It was honestly one of my favorite shows I have ever been to. Plus it didn’t hurt that the theater is one of my favorite places to see a show – it is very intimate. Now, I am going to come clean and let you know I am “cheating” a bit with this review. Jon sold a recording of the show – so I am listening as I am writing this review. Don’t be fooled and think that I can remember shows in great detail. I can’t. Unless of course I am listening to a recording of it while I am typing up the review. (The CD did not catch the last song of his set as it ran out of room. Also not included is the encore so that will be from memory!) Jon came on stage, said hello and went into the song Human. After the song he introduced himself and mentioned it was his first time in Fairfield. He explained how it was a bit of a chilled out tour and usually he is high strung, but for this tour is “so laid back” and that the tour would be ending soon. He warned that he would be playing lots of slow, sappy love songs and then went into My Girl Tonight. Before his next song, he introduced us to Bob, who was playing guitar and explained how they reworked an older song but he could never remember how it went after he started it. He thought that if he told us it would help him remember the song… Judging by the reaction that he had after he started it (laying across the piano) it seemed like he might have forgotten it again! He then went into Beating My Heart which was his single off of OK Now. Jon mentioned growing up in the 80s, he wanted to have a drum machine on one of his songs. He figured to do it on this tour to give it a bit of a band dynamic. He also thought since James Taylor had a drum machine on his record… “Well if James Taylor could do it, maybe I could do it. Again that is a ridiculous phrase, it should never be uttered out of my mouth.” He forgot about making the loop before the first show and he and Bob put it together in Garage Band. Then they decided that the loop was awful – so they did not play it! But the song Little Too Hard Little Too Fast did start out with a drum machine loop earlier in the tour. Before What I Want, Jon chatted a bit about audience participation and how a lot of artists will say that they absolutely need audience participation and it turns out that they want you to clap above your head and that no one can do that for a whole song except maybe athletes. But we needed to help him out or the song would be horrible. He taught us the chorus – “So I go do exactly what I want. You can say that I’m the one to blame. And I go to exactly what I want. And I hope you do the same.” If you’d like to try some audience participation at home – What I Want is available for FREE on Noise Trade! He also discussed his song writing process and how he basically lost all of his social skills from being holed up in his house trying to write songs and then got a “money call” from one of his friends who was telling him about a bad breakup that he had. Jon quickly found a pad and paper and took notes and ended up writing “Summer is Over” about relationships that are great in the summer but once it gets cold the whole thing just falls apart. He also spoke a bit about when he was first signed and was sent out the LA to write with other people and how he did not like it at all and it wasn’t something that he was used to. He ended up going to a friend in LA’s house and it was there he wrote Indiana which is not about a girl but rather about the music industry. Jon also mentioned a couple of his influences – Harry Connick Jr (who was so good live it made him angry) and Billy Joel. He decided that he wanted to write a Jazzy song like Harry Connick Jr and ended up with Why Im Talkin To You which also had some crowd participation. He loved Billy Joel as a kid because he wore TShirts under his blazers, while Jon’s dad wore button ups under his blazers so he felt that Billy Joel was rebelling. He covered Billy’s “Movin’ Out”
Since he had no real set list he was working off of, he had the audience yell out requests and then went into Amelia’s Missing and Beautiful Disaster. It was at this point that the 90 minute mark was hit so the recording would no longer fit on the CD. He finished his set with Industry. Of course, that was not enough for everyone in attendance who began clapping and cheering for an encore. Jon came out and again asked for requests and several people yelled out The Middle. Jon realized that he didn’t really know how it went so a few fans in the crowd yelled out the lines and eventually ended up on stage to help him out. (This is why you should always be prepared and know your favorites songs off the top of your head – you never know when they will need you to bail them out)
He finished out the night with Forever If Ever and mentioned that he’d be hanging out after the show. I was able to meet him afterwards and I asked him to please come back soon and he assured me that he would. He seemed to be really impressed with the venue, which made me happy since it is one of my favorite places to go for a show.
I picked up an extra copy of his CDs Indiana and OK Now which I will be giving away to a lucky reader soon! Stay tuned for the contest details!
My Girl Tonight
Beating My Heart
Little Too Hard Little Too Fast
What I Want
We All Need Saving
Summer is Over
Why Im Talkin To You
Forever If Ever