Thoughts on José González in Colston Hall, Bristol


22 avr. 2006, 6h57m

The concert last night was amazing.

The opening acts (there were two) were both Swedish and I don't remember their names for the life of me. We arrived about 10 minutes after the first girl started - she was a singer/songwriter in the Tori Amos vein, but a little drunk! Sweet, though. Then came a very odd group, which the ushers warned us were "crap" because loads of people were walking out as we came back in. They were a trio of women playing a variety of instruments (sax, flute, little drums, etc.) and a lot of computers. They sampled themselves and built up complex songs layer upon layer, singing sometimes. It reminded me of Bjork from time to time. Their name started with an M, possible "Mon-" something, and I think it had "air" in. If anyone thinks they know them, please let me know. The crowd were pretty disrespectful, talking all the way through, but the performers took it well.

Then there was a half hour or longer break or before José González came on.

He walked onto stage in darkness wearing jeans a white t-shirt, so you could just barely make him out. The crowd went dead quite and then errupted in cheers and whoops.

He sat down on a chair on the far right of the stage and a light came up on him. He put his guitar into position and started tuning, breaking smoothly into the strains of Deadweight on Velveteen, followed almost seamlessly by Storm. Again, almost without stopping, except for tuning his guitar, which he does almost between every track due to the complex guitar work he does, he did a lovely instrumental piece that I didn't recognise.

Then he spoke for the first time since saying a timid "Hello" when he first got in front of the mic. His non-singing voice betrays a fairly strong Latin American accent, and he had the perfect Iberian pronunciation when he leaned forward into the mic and said: "Hello. My name is José Gonzålez." It reminded me of Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride as Inigo Montoya. Everybody cheered wildly as he broke into more music.

Overall, I remember he played Broken Arrows, Stay in the Shade, All You Deliver, Slow Moves, Lovestain, and an emotionally powerful version of Remain. He also played two songs he explicitly identified as new material, and a few he may not have done. The two he named were a song called "Someone Has To Leave" and "The Darkness". They both had a broader, more mainstream, less technical feel, but I liked them and look forward to the new album.

He left us after "Remain", but a standing ovation of a minute and a half brought him back on to much delight. He played my favourite of his covers, Hand on Your Heart, followed by Teardrop, followed by Heartbeats. "Teardrop" was a phenomenal, heavy, lovely version I've not heard from him before and I'd love a recording.

He went off stage once more and then came back on to play Love Will Tear Us Apart and Crosses. He may have played another song or two before it, but that's what sticks in my mind. It was gorgeous. He then bowed off, waved to us, thanked us, and left the stage for the final time.

Moments that I remember: some guys in the galleries were wolf-whistling at him, and he started to do it back at them under his breath into the mic. Hilarious! Also, some guys kept shouting for him to play "Love Will Tear Us Apart", and at one point while there were doing this and he was tuning his guitar he says into the mic in a heavy voice, "Love will tear us apart." Very deadpan. Someone else shouts for "Born in the USA", so he says..."Born in the USA" in the same tone. Very funny.

He kept thanking us throughout, told us how tired he was, gave appreciation for Bristol and the opening acts, and did magical things with his fingers and his voice. At one point in one of the songs before his percussion backup guys came on, I heard a drumming sound and wondered if he had a computer sampling it or something. I realised quickly that it was actually him beating on the case of the guitar while doing some very complex fingerpicking, and it wasn't a simple beat either. Amazing!

He retuned between almost every song, always adjusting. It seems like some of the time, he's tuning a certain string or two strings totally differently, which helps explain why his sound is so different. He probably has to do so to be able to play the notes that he does.

He's a natural talent. While he was onstage, I thought to myself at one point, this is as close as I'll ever get to seeing Nick Drake play live. He's amazing and talented and humble and hot and lovely in every way, and I had a really good time. I almost cried at a few points, but held it together.

I'm a fan for life.


  • KattenHove

    I saw him last year, and except for the tracklist, that pretty much sums up my experience too! :) He is a fantastic muscian!

    23 avr. 2006, 9h05m
  • jocrow

    saw him at his first uk gig in london and he sounds a lot less shy! It was a really special night buit sometimes I thought the visuals were over the top, he doesn't need packaging.

    3 mai 2006, 19h55m
  • bandito

    Jose Gonzalez - Teardrop

    11 mai 2006, 18h30m
  • msfliss

    Thanks, bandito...I already had a version, but this one is slightly different. It still doesn't have the punch of the live performance. I don't know if it's the bootleg quality they're all bound to have or what, but live, it took on a whole new dimension. Absolutely incredible perfomance.

    12 mai 2006, 17h23m
  • bandito

    no problems, would you mind uploading the other version? i'm a fan of most of his covers, but that one in particular, would be most appreciated!

    12 mai 2006, 22h05m
  • oldhall

    Thanks for writing that up

    27 juin 2006, 22h24m
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