Feel the love

Jonathan Richman

Jonathan Richman appears to be crying when smiling, so when he ohsosweetly sings his gollygeewillikers lyrics, enchanted audience members must fight the urge to climb on stage and give the manboy a hug. Playing in a pit the size of a trackhome living room a few years back, Richman certainly gave off no “Godfather of Punk” vibes. No ranting, no moshing, no spitting, just Jonathan, alone with his acoustic guitar and longtime drummer Tommy Larkins, seemingly more alone than anyone in the packed house. We felt the love, and Richman—frequently scanning the crowd with his sad, searching eyes—obviously needed to feel it in return. He has ties to the Velvet Underground, his original sidemen went on to join the Cars and the Talking Heads, he influenced Weezer, Frank Black and the Violent Femmes, and his songs have been covered by David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, Joan Jett, Simple Minds and Burning Sensations. He’s also got an almost local hook, having married Nicole Montalbano of Chico in 2003; she sang back up on his album Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love that came out the next year. Those are reasons to catch Richman live, but he’ll lavish you with so much more—and want it right back.