Richard Shindell (Northampton, MA)

On Thursday, October 28th, Richard Shindell played at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA.

Jess Klein opened with a short set covering a variety of styles. My favorite was a quiet and slow tune, but I’m afraid I don’t remember the name of it.

As for Richard, he played a wonderful set, despite one small stumble in “Arrowhead.” Listening to him play is like reading a really wonderful collection of short stories. As an English major, I wish that we had been allowed to read something so compelling; the language is lyrical enough to pass muster in any college course. But his real magic lies in his ability to take ordinary people (cab drivers, truckers, etc.) in normal circumstances, and making them into extraordinary moments for the audience to experience vicariously. For example, I know I will never have crumb cake as good as that at Aunt Hazel’s House. And “The Last Fare of the Day” hasn’t failed yet at tearing me up (though I think I’ve only heard it two or three times now). Of course, he also does some marvelous historical ballads – “Courier” and “Arrowhead” were among those performed this time. And I found myself greatly charmed by his new “meta-song” — his first attempt to write something in Spanish, which apparently ended with several verb conjugations. He described it as a love song in which he apologizes to his love for his less than perfect mastery of her beautiful language. At this point, there are only a couple songs on the new album that I haven’t heard – and I definitely need to get a copy so I can hear “There Goes Mavis”, “Last Fare of the Day” and “Grey, Green” whenever I like. It was a great show — we just won’t talk about the steadily declining food at the venue.

As a side note, Richard brought up during his set a children’s center that he is supporting near Beunos Aires. We didn’t give much, but apparently even a few dollars go pretty far down there. It was nice to do something positive in a world where too many people seem to focus on the negatives.

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