Damien Jurado Live (show review, photos, & videos)
by Luke Goddard
This past Friday, November the 5th, from about 9:45pm until about 10:30pm, I felt like I was in the presence of a legend. You know what I’m talking about, right? That warm, butterfly-type feeling you get when someone super famous walks past you somewhere unexpectedly. Except, in this case, this fella wasn’t “super famous” and our crossing paths was far from “unexpected.”
TBI’s official photographer, William Haun, brought to my attention that Damien Jurado would be playing at The Earl on this particular Friday night. And the second I was made aware of this, something turned in my stomach. I know, that sounds pretty dramatic, right? But you have to understand how excited I was to finally have the chance to hear Jurado live. I mean, this is a guy who hails from the Seattle, WA. So, obviously playing Georgia is not something he does on a regular basis. Perhaps even better was that I knew The Earl only holds 100 or so folks in their listening room.
For me, this was a very big deal.
Damien was set to go on at 9:30pm. It was getting close to 9:45pm and there was no sign of Damien. I was in the back with William talking to Jurado’s wife, Sarah Jurado, who happens to be an amazing photographer, by the way. But anyways, while we were chatting, I heard about 100 or so footsteps quickly shuffling to the stage. There he was. Jurado very quietly made his way out of the greenroom and on to the stage. You heard a few whistles from the crowd, which is mainly what directed my attention toward the stage. It definitely wasn’t Damien making some sort of dramatic entrance that got my attention. He doesn’t care much about that type of ridiculousness. He just simply took his 16 + years of experience as a touring songwriter confidently on stage, adjusted his mic, sat down, propped his guitar on his right knee, and so began what was, for me, a near transcendental experience.
He opened with a track unfamiliar to me. It was quiet and had a slow start, but flawless nonetheless. I feel that’s Damien for you though. He’s not going to knock the cap off the bottle with the first song. He’s gonna ease you into it. The most impressive part of the set was from song #2 to the end with “Ghost of David.” After the first song, he primarily played the tracks from his most recent record, Saint Bartlett, which happened to get a 9 out of 10 from TBI’s Sarah Bates. Saint Bartlett is filled with layered echo parts with tons of reverb. So, I was curious to see how he was going to bring this record on stage. Since he was playing alone, I knew he wouldn’t be able to have the horns and what not from the record on stage, but what Jurado was able to do with 1 guitar, 2 microphones, and his voice is precisely what blew my socks off.
He freaking nailed it. “Cloudy Shoes” had never sounded cloudier– thick echoes and all. Just perfect. I think what impressed me the most was that Jurado totally proved me wrong. I went to that show with the mindset thinking that it would be impossible for him to bring Saint Bartlett on stage without his band and it not feel empty. After the show, I remember thinking on the way out that Dylan, Drake, and the rest didn’t necessarily need the full band behind them either. Yes, I just put Jurado in the same category as those. And rightfully so. The dude is this generation’s best kept secret. Saint Bartlett is probably my favorite album of the last 5 years. And on November 5th, 2010, Jurado couldn’t have performed it more beautifully.