Music show

I’m at a live music show, indoors. What am I feeling?

I should have been happy to be there, right? I’m a music fanatic, someone who has spent most of their life attending concerts on a regular basis. Over the past year, I had said to myself over and over again, regretting every show I had missed, “When the live music returns, I will never miss another show!” Already.”

The socially estranged audience from John Scofield’s second show at City Winery, which was limited to 25 percent of capacity.

Nathan Klima for the Boston Globe

Still, the gradual loosening of COVID restrictions has been a bit… bizarre. I hadn’t even set foot in a grocery store for 14 months. (I’m in the high risk age group, Jimi Hendrix at Rhode Island Auditorium, 1968, vintage.) Not to mention the isolation of the WFH, avoiding crowds, masking, washing hands. When I finally ventured into a supermarket, what I felt was not exactly fear, but just the dissociation of stepping into a situation that I had diligently avoided all these months. What could be more familiar than a supermarket? Familiar, but strange. As in, really? It’s good now ?

But here I am, once again, with about sixty other music lovers, in a hall built for 300. The audience was scattered in two and four-tops very spaced. All except the staff were maskless as masks are mandatory unless you eat and drink, and everyone eats and drinks. Still, comfortable, right? … I think so.

It must have been weird for Scofield too, also without a mask. According to his management, his last pre-pandemic show was on March 6, 2020. Since then, he hadn’t come out to a live audience until April 24 for two shows at the Ridgefield (Connecticut) Playhouse, near his home. . house in upstate New York.

John Scofield on stage at City Winery.
John Scofield on stage at City Winery.

Nathan Klima for the Boston Globe

“I can play again, wow! He said, and from the first notes of the first song you knew why you were here. It was the Beatles tune “I Will” by Paul McCartney, and Scofield’s loving attention to the melody, his phrasing, his shaping of each note, with slides, bends and passing tones, concerned this vocal line, the very definition of “lyricism”. “

He was a master at work, having fun, and I started to take pleasure in his pleasure, and I felt my unease fade as he went through his usual wide mix of materials – jazz standards, country, pop, rock and roll, swing, “Wichita Lineman”, Pharoah Sanders, Mingus, Coltrane, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly.

Scofield himself was great, poking fun at technical issues (“If Clapton was here, do you think that would happen?”), Reciting lyrics to a few songs (“You don’t want me to sing”), encouraging audiences to Hit a clave beat on “Not Fade Away” and whistle his song “Jeep on 35” even though he didn’t care.

Public participation! Or, more accurately, an artist engaging with a live audience. So familiar, but so strange. After a while, however, even the clicking of a fallen piece of cutlery sounded exactly right. Live show. What can I say – you had to be there.


Jon Garelick can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @jgarelick.