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Monday, January 20, 2014

Jonny Lang @ The Roseland

Last night Jonny Lang reminded me why I love live music. The thing I love beyond all else- beyond lyricism, beyond rhythm, beyond synchronicity, is watching a musician,-a band- put every ounce of themselves into a performance. If you're lucky, you may be able to hear that on a record, but it really must be seen. Part of what I'm trying to describe involves sweat and energy, but sometimes it also involves something else, something deeper.  A person like Jonny Lang puts his soul on stage. "Red Light" was already my favorite track on "Long Time Coming," but when Mr. Lang sang it last night with all the desperation of someone searching for more, it's an entirely different song. Some may want to dismiss Lang's recent religiously influenced work as only for those who share his faith, but I think that is a mistake. Many of those songs are among his best work, due in large part to what they obviously mean to him personally. I am not a Christian, in fact the closest thing I have to a religion is the experience we shared last night. The electricity that exists between artist and audience is very spiritual indeed.

I've been laughing lately about how the word "epic" is overused, and used as a synonym for "excellent" or "cool," instead of lengthy or wide in scope. But, there is no other word but 'epic' to describe the extended versions of songs Jonny Lang played last night. They were truly astonishing.

If I were to meet Mr. Lang someday, the first question I would ask him is: "where do you go?" I believe he would know exactly what I was asking. What does it feel like in that place of obvious transcendence? Where are you when you seem to leave the rest of us?

Maybe someday I'll know.

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