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The Jayhawks remain in top form

Fonda Theatre, West Hollywood, Cal, July 26, 2016

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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It's usually a good time to catch a band right after they've released one of their better albums, and "Paging Mr. Proust" is one of The Jayhawks' best. Comprised of smart songs, which consistently put lead singer Gary Louris' engaging vibrato to proper use and instrumental textures that oftentimes stretch the Minnesota act beyond its usual alt.country/jangle-rock leanings, the group was able to proudly perform many of these tracks during its approximately two-hour show.

Scanning a few set lists from tour stops leading up to this show led to worries the group may not perform the best song, "Lovers of the Sun." No need to fear, though, because this soft and engaging character study, which may remind you of The Velvet Underground with Nico, came along early in the set. Its lyric follows the steps of a fascinating girl, which is a description that might fit most any Jayhawks song.

Speaking of jangle-rock, the band found room to include two of its best janglers, "Save it for a Rainy Day" and "Tailspin," the latter incorporating lovely steel guitar into its mix. Everything Jayhawka hinges upon Louris' unique singing voice, and Louris was in fine form throughout. After a healthy regular set of music, Louris came back out (first) to perform a couple of songs just on acoustic guitar. One of these was "Angelyne," which was even more beautiful in this stripped down arrangement. The band then joined after these two numbers to close out the night.

The group ended its regular set with "I'd Run Away," off the fantastic "Tomorrow the Green Grass" album from 1995. The song begins with a kind of musical fanfare before charging into a no holds barred love song. The group also included the album's title track, even though - as Louris explained it to the audience - the song with the album's title never actually appeared on the album, but was instead released as a b-side.

After singing "All the Right Reasons," off 2003's "Rainy Day Music," Louris asked for a show of hands from audience members that had been married to that song. And there were three or four that responded affirmatively. And these were truly wise people. They applied a Jayhawks song for all the right reasons.

The Jayhawks may have written and recorded a song called "Big Star," which they also performed tonight. Yet - like the pioneering band of the same name - they've never truly been big stars. Nevertheless, a Jayhawks concert is packed with great song after great song, and this evening's show found the group in top form.