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John Doe survives on his own

Brighton Music Hall, Boston, June 19, 2014

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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John Doe is far from pedestrian when it comes to making music, despite his name. In fact, he has enjoyed a long career, principally with his main gig of being one of the founders of X since way back in 1977 and the dormant country band The Knitters. Not to mention forays into acting both on the big screen and television.

Doe also has a solo career dating to 1990, having released "The Best of John Doe: This Far" earlier this year, containing 21 songs but none of them what you would particularly label as hits.

Doe's solo efforts have never come close to the popularity that he has enjoyed with X.

Maybe that was why only about 75 people showed up to hear Doe. Perhaps it didn't help that X, despite having no new studio album since "Hey Zeus!" in 1993 (!), still tours and is back in the area in a few months.

Doe remains a superb vocalist, breathing a lot of life into the songs. While most were in the rock direction, Doe has a rootsy, country bent, a bit bluesy as well, in some of his material.

Unsurprisingly, the best received songs of the set were those from X: "4th of July," "Burning House of Love," See How We Are" and closing the night out with "A New World." Doe did not need to have X with him to make the songs relevant. Austin-based guitarist Jesse Dayton manned the axe, while Cindy Wasserman capably took care of Exene Cervenka's role.

Formally dressed in a tie and jacket, Doe was an affable sort with his comments. "This is a sad song that sounds sad," he said in introducing "Twin Brother." At one point, he promised to curtail his talking, but with a sense of humor and self-deprecation, Doe also didn't take himself too seriously.

Doe never was able to match the acclaim of some of his bands, but don't think he is not a worthy musician - even without a band.

In a rare chance to hear Dayton perform his own material up north, he opened the show with an upright bassist helping out as well. Dayton. He was a throwback to what country music used to have - sad songs with heartbreak about loss, sometimes with a humorous bent. To wit, the honky tonk of "I'm At Home Getting Hammered (While She's Out Getting Nailed)" from a movie collaboration with horror film director and music Rob Zombie. He got tough sounding with "Daddy Was a Badass," not the kind of man you'd want to meet.

Dayton, who put in meaningful time with Jennings and Cash, was very good during his stint, but he also could have offered more of a freewheeling approach.