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JD McPherson At Amoeba, Monday June 1st 2015

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JD McPherson

Arriving at Amoeba, I finally realized I had already seen JD McPherson! But I have a good excuse, I see so many bands in a month that I sometimes become slow, but sure, I had already seen McPherson during this endless Halloween night, headlined by Queens of the Stone Age at the Forum last year. Josh Homme is a big fan and that’s why he had booked him to open this long evening, and McPherson had already made a big impression. ‘He’s influenced by all sorts of things from all different worlds,’ said Homme to describe JD’s music. ‘But when he ingests it, it sort of comes out like this bastard child of Little Richard. This cat JD McPherson is just the real deal. It’s totally for real. And I think to myself, where has this been my whole life?’ And if it’s Homme-approved, it can’t be fake.

JD McPherson gave a really great show to the Amoeba crowd, playing a set full of a vibrant energy deeply rooted in American music history. Despite his young age, McPherson transports his audience in an early-Elvis era, as his 50’s-inspired music sounds like a Sun Records throwback. Surrounded by four musicians, he demonstrated he excels at this retro sound, sounding like a more rockabilly version of Nick Waterhouse, or like a modern reincarnation of Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran at the same time. It’s vintage rockabilly with keys, saxophone and upright bass, lots of clapping and some howling, a great energy and a brand new twist, since nobody sounded exactly like this in the 50’s. Plus, there’s also good diversity in his music. Take ‘Bossy’ (one of my favorite songs he played) it was an excellent stomp, with a more deep-south-country sound, and a whipped beat à la Johnny Cash, whereas the Elvis-inspired ‘It Shook me Up’ was running a Jerry Lee Lewis boogie piano.

JD McPherson immediately appears like a very lovable guy, he speaks a little like an old-time radio guy and uses words like ‘folks’. His new album, ‘Let The Good Times Roll’, which was produced by Mark Neill (The Black Keys’ Brothers, Old 97s, Los Straitjackets), was released at the beginning of this year, and he even co-wrote one of the songs ‘Bridge Builder’ with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. However, it’s not the bluesy stomp you would expect, rather it sounded like a soulful number in the Falmingos’ ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ vein.

The whole set was a boogie rockabilly revival, and then suddenly there was ‘Precious’ (another favorite of mine), with a subtle western-Spanish flavor, served by bright guitars and McPherson’s touching tenor, all wrapped around a catchy melody like something Los Lobos could have done. It was during tracks like these one that I liked him the most, although his insatiable bluesy vintage rockabilly sounded like a breath of fresh air.

All eyes are currently turned to McPherson, since he was selected as a Rolling Stone ‘Artist to Watch’, an NPR Music ‘Artist You Should Know’, a WXPN ‘Artist to Watch’, and was also awarded ‘Best Rock/Hard Rock Album’ at the 2012 Independent Music Awards. He and his band were really rocking the Amoeba place on Monday night, proving, one more time, he is one of these artists you have to see live.

If I saw him opening for QOTSA,  well, it has become a habit for JD McPherson to appear on the bill at big shows: he is opening for Robert Plant at the Greek on Tuesday,… what about that!

More pictures of the show here.

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