Jonathan Richman entertains at the Bug Theatre in Denver - Reverb

Live review: Jonathan Richman @ the Bug Theatre

Jonathan Richman sang in five languages at the Bug Theatre on Tuesday night. Photo courtesy of the artist's MySpace.

Jonathan Richman sang in five languages at the Bug Theatre on Tuesday night. Photo courtesy of the artist's MySpace.

“Sometimes I’m afraid of getting older, but it’s bad material for a show.”

These words came from maybe the most self-deprecating (and most charming) rock star alive on Tuesday night at the Bug Theatre — and a more fitting venue for his quirk and suave likely doesn’t exist.

Alongside longtime drummer Tommy Larkin, Richman serenaded the sold out house, more than merely offering a performance. Holding his nylon-strung acoustic and sporting an impressive mustache, he danced while he sang, as if his pants were too tight and his arms were loosely strung from the ceiling, completely unabashed. His voice would disappear as he moved away from the mic to rush the front of the stage, eliciting giggles from the audience.

His eyes drooped in comic sadness, and belied the youthful naivete through which he sang many songs from his latest record, “O Moon, Queen of Night On Earth,” and a few older, more well known tunes. The mix was solid, serving both fans of “Something About Mary” and those who’ve been listening for years before the film was made. The performance of “Bohemia” was engrossing, both a story of familial rite of passage and nostalgia for a precious, more pretentious past. And the pairing of “That Summer Feeling” and “No One Was Like Vermeer” formed a master stroke.

Truly a modern linguist and intellectual, Richman sang in no less than five languages last night, including Spanish, French, Hebrew, and Italian, with pronunciation that native speakers would envy. His delightfully comfortable personality reached out through his quick, hilarious translations to each of us in the audience as he jostled us with his easy, perpetually childish humor.

His guitar skills were also envious. Richman emulated flamenco masters as he wrapped up songs, fingers flashing across strings and all along the guitar’s neck as the tempo slowed to a stop. As powerful and easy a love for one’s instrument as Richman portrayed throughout the hour-long set was unusual — and in this case, I couldn’t help feeling that his guitar would need to be wrung out after each show, and then hung to dry.

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Billy Thieme is a Denver-based writer, an old-school punk and a huge follower of Denver’s vibrant local music scene. Follow Billy’s explorations at DenverThread.com, and his giglist at Gigbot.

  • John Moore

    You’re good, Thieme …