live: jose gonzalez:: the brooklyn masonic temple::: march 12, 2008
  • THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2008

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-photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Masonic Temple


Polite, intelligent, good looking; these are the not too shabby characteristics that best describe the gathering of a few hundred at Brooklyn’s Masonic Temple last evening. ‘Course this kind of a thing is no surprise considering the Swedish-Argentinean crooner drawing ‘em all in to the boxy auditorium…With two acclaimed collections of dark and stormy acoustic fair (05’s Veneer and ‘07’s In Our Nature) nicked up his sleeve, a live performance from José Gonzalez is a unique and rare treat. Tap a semi-formal, mostly mysterious Temple to host such an affair, and the beautiful flock of folks makes sense…at least in this city anyway.

None of this matters though. I had not gotten half lost in Fort Greene to ogle eye candy all night. No, I had come to see Gonzalez; a musician I‘ve admittedly struggled with over the last few years. Sure, his songs…they’ve been good to me. But Veneer has always sat somewhere in the grey… a kind of classic casework in the merits of background music. Yet those I know who fall for his playing? They fall hard. I’m talking the kind of gung ho enthusiasts who cut a trip to NY to see friends short because they just have to get home to Chicago to see him play (I’m not that bitter Eric).

So, in a slightly narcissistic way, I suppose Gonzalez has a little something to prove…

Joined on stage by a conga player - his only obligation being to the subtle, heart beat pulse that push the songs along – and a female companion lending timid bits of vocal accompaniment, Gonzalez’ performance seems simple enough. And his habit for the kind of soft spoken banter that never reaches those perched in the back never makes the moments that live between the songs particularity interesting. Yet once he begins to play, once he begins to lean in close, twisting and turning his neck for the closest possible view of his own spider like dance along the fret board, once he fits his own voice within the mix like a 7th string…I understand.

Crafting incandescent lines of guitar like I have never heard before, Gonzalez haunts the Temple with mood and mystique. Over the course of a 75 minute set that includes highlights like “Cycling Trivialities”, “Down the Line”, “Heartbeats”, “In Our Nature”, “Killing For Love”, “Love Stain”, “Remain”, “Teardrop”, among others, Gonzalez expands upon the pressing sonic qualities of Veneer and In Our Nature, exploring the kind of robust possibilities in mood, tone, timbre, and time his recorded efforts just can’t replicate.

In the end, it is Gonzalez’ ability to drive his listeners into the dramatic depths of their own psyche which seems most important. Pressing eyelids tight, I’m immediately lost within a tangle of emotions. Which ones? I suppose that would be the tricky part. But for the beautiful people taking the emotional plunge to Gonzalez' dark acoustic art, a supreme sense of beauty awaits. - David Pitz


-photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Masonic Temple

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MP3: Jose Gonzalez:: “Down the Line” In Our Nature
Jose Gonzalez @ MySpace

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