At long last the Live at Sunset Marquis concert series is back! To think that it has been over a year since the last event is astonishing, particularly since the last two acts to grace our stage ended up playing Coachella this year. With a track record like that, its no surprise that this first performance of the 2012 season was a treat to the ears.
The opening act was El Javi Trio, featuring El Javi himself on guitar, Mario Gonzalez on bass and Alistair Wilson on the cajon and an occasional splash cymbal. El Javi wasted no time showing us blistering dexterity and masterful skill on his nylon string acoustic guitar played in a classical style. My favorite moment of this set came near the end when the trio played Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” instrumentally. El Javi’s guitar was mimicking the melody of Freddie’s voice perfectly, and although El Javi had asked everyone to sing along, no one dared interrupt this Stanley Jordan-esque moment of sonic wonder we were all witnessing. Listen to the track stream on the player to the right and join in the satisfaction.
Next on the bill was the husband and wife duo of Jill and Haven Lamoureux, better known as Wing and Hollow. They were backed by drums, upright bass, keys coming through a Nord Electro and on a few songs, an adorable female backup singer named Kim. As Jill stepped up to the mic for the first time we were all captivated by her stunning beauty, which was rivaled only by the even more stunning sound of the delicate, refined and elegant voice with which she began to sing. My mind was trying to make comparisons right away, but her voice was just too unique to go down that path. If I was forced to say “She sounds like…” I would be vague and say she exists in the vast expanse between Shawn Colvin and Norah Jones, living simply on her own. With her gruff but honest husband, Haven, beside her playing acoustic guitar, leading the band and adding an occasional element of comic relief, the duo grabbed the audience and didn’t let them go. They played a delightful cover of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” which catered beautifully to Jill’s sensuous voice. The only thing missing was Joe Perry wailing on a Les Paul out of his villa window. (Things like that occasionally happen at the Sunset Marquis) At one point Haven joked and said they were going to play “The Thong Song”, which caught every male audience member’s attention. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see Jill in a thong, particularly with those bedazzled pumps she was wearing. (Things like that happen at the Sunset Marquis too) She laughed off her chiding husband and broke into an intoxicating song about everything we are “Desperate To Be”. It was gorgeous. Listen to it stream on the player to the right and go for a ride.
The nights’ final act was a 17 year old singer-songwriter named Noah Benardout who came out as excited as you would expect a 17year old to be in such a situation. He was accompanied only by his friend Luke Walton, no not the ex-Laker, but a PRS wielding guitar champion who lit up the night air with his deep chambered tone. They came out blazing on the first song and Noah gripped the audience with his contagious energy and charismatic voice. The song spoke of aeronautics and rockets which, like the rocket sticker on Noah’s holstered telecaster, alluded to this young man’s inevitable launch into the stratosphere of success. (Listen to that breakout track here while it streams). But Noah was just getting started, and there was a lot more to this young talent than just sex appeal and unbridled emotional energy. He jumped straight from acoustic guitar to the keyboard and hammered out a heartfelt original tune which showcased his versatility, his voice continuing to command respect from his falsetto all the way down to the lowest note he could hit. On the next song he picked up the “rocketship” telecaster that was sitting in its stand and belted out a soaring overture to needing guidance as a youth, a poignant song to say the least. And what’s even more impressive is that at such a young age Noah was able to deliver a message of hope to those who may have lived more, but suffered none the less. The show continued effortlessly and ended with a rousing applause. I thoroughly enjoyed Noah’s display of raw emotion throughout his performance and have high expectations for his future success, as do all that were in attendance. Listen to it stream on the player to the right and enjoy.
Evan Brau May, 2012