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.
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: