Jose Gonzalez @ The Pabst Theater

Posted on March 21, 2008 by


Jose Gonzalez

Three days after seeing Swedish troubadour Jose Gonzales at the Pabst, I’m still marveling at how economically powerful it was. I left the theater in a daze — bewildered by how one man with a guitar, a percussionist with conga drums, and a woman singing back-up could give such a powerful performane. There were no wailing guitars, no histrionic stage dives, nothing but the respectful, awed silence of the almost-full Pabst Theater, and Gonzalez’s voice: as clear and steady as a beating heart.

Jose Gonzalez

It was so simple, too: he played most of the songs from “In Our Nature,” and added “Crosses” off his debut “Veneer.” Gonzalez’s harmonizing with his accompanists on “How Low” made the proverbial hair-on-back-of-neck connection. The light show was incredible for setting the mood as well. Just to reiterate how hushed and quiet it was: the only sound I could hear was my camera clicking while taking photos — and I felt terrible that I was disturbing people around me. The last time I remember a show that seemed to make as much of a connection with the audience this way was also at the Pabst, when Iron and Wine came to town.


One of the best parts of the show, I thought, was his cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” — his pseudo-last song. The encore was at least five songs strong, and included one that I thought he said was called “Deborah,” but couldn’t find anywhere online. One thing I did miss was a cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” — rumored to be a signature move on Gonzalez’s part, but not something he’s been doing on this tour. Here’s a bit I found on Youtube for everyone: