Sean Lennon, Kamila Thompson, Women and ChildrenApril 25 at the Roxy

Sean Lennon headlined the show, but it felt more like an extensive family picnic, with Lennon as everyone’s favorite chatty, musical cousin. The scene dripped with well-adjusted earnestness: fashionable Japanese fans and gently aging hipsters clapping politely for the opener — Women and Children — in spite of their numerous sonic shortcomings. The mood warmed up when singer-songwriter Kamila Thompson perched on her stool and improbably held the noisy room at bay. But things freakin’ ignited when impeccably outfitted Sean Lennon and Co. took the stage, with cheers practically drowning out the orchestral intro. The band wasted no time restacking the tracks on Friendly Fire — employing groovy ’70s-style guitar and swaggering bass lines, but also bringing out subtle flourishes that slip by almost unnoticed on the album itself. Lennon shared anecdotes about his brother’s Rastafarian friend misunderstanding the meaning of the song “Smoke and Mirrors” (turns out it’s not about a weed-and-cocaine-fueled party), and his goofy asides to friends (“I’d like to give a shout-out to my girl, Carrie [Fisher]”) kept the crowd laughing and loose. So loose that when the backup harmony on “Falling Out of Love” sounded suspiciously like dolphin noises, it just didn’t matter. Lennon, armed with his Jazzmaster, worked a Framptonesque talking-guitar angle before launching into a lively rendition of “Headlights.” With little warning, a jam-band interlude stretched on for ages, followed by a bemusing ramble concluding with Lennon’s announcement that he’d “stop talking 7 seconds after his brain stopped thinking.” Tiresome? Uh-huh. Mostly annoying because time was running out and the melancholy “Tomorrow” had yet to surface. Lennon cleverly saved that for a satisfying solo-acoustic portion of the encore. Bottom line: The live show imbued a sense of context, and the record I’d previously liked-not-loved seemed way more fleshed out on the revisit.

Sean Lennon at the Roxy – Would I Be the One?  Sean Lennon at the Roxy – Wait For Me  Sean Lennon at the Belly Up Tavern – Mystery Juice

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