Joan Osborne – Live Concert — The Newton Theater Performance – August 5th, 2023
Joan Osborne emerged from the backstage with an opening vamp to one of her new songs “I Should Have Danced,” & was received by her audience warmly & excitedly. She maneuvered with skill & slinky moves in a black & white kimono-like dress. She sang with conviction & Ms. Osborne’s Newton Theater repertoire was performed with expertise with exceptional range & power.
It wasn’t a sold-out venue, but this isn’t New York City. The theater was generously packed. The only element I found cheeky (but not objectionable) was the electronic drums on the opening tune. I’m old-school & prefer an artist like Joan with pure musicality. That type of instrumentation on a good song is a little artificial. But Joan’s vocalizing as the song proceeded rose above it all. However, Joan used the effects sparingly, so it can be forgiven.
The whole of the concert was indeed pure. All real instrumentation. What’s commendable & remarkable is that there were only 3 musicians on stage. The sound at this theater was effective & Joan’s voice was without fault. Keyboardist Will Bryant was impressive along with guitarist Jack Petruzzelli who provided a colorful performance. Joan’s creative percussion made it even fuller. She just didn’t need an army of musicians on stage. It was to me — exciting. But then, Joan is a consummate performer without being bombastic with laser beams, smoke machines, videos & 25-half-nude dancers behind her. She doesn’t need it.
The fascination with Ms. Osborne is that she’s not Paula Cole, Aimee Mann, Maria McKee, or Tanita Tikaram – she’s herself, the “other” Joan. She sang 11 songs beautifully in a nice mix of classics, originals, a few Dylan tunes, a Muddy Waters song & an old rock n’ roll song (“Shake Your Hips”) — a show stopper. Unleashed with authority, her rock-out enthusiasm was solid with always meticulous instrumentation.
The 7-time Grammy nominated Joan Osborne was varied, diverse & her showcase was well received. Her opening lyric on “Trouble & Strife” — “Well there once was a man called Broadway Jim, he had the idea I was in love with him…” was rendered in my notes as “a great song.” It was vigorous, a song perfectly suited for a live show crackling with Osborne’s energy.
The poignant song Joan wrote for her teenage daughter from her new CD “Nobody Owns You,” sounded like a Leslie Gore approach (“You Don’t Own Me”) with a dash of poignancy similar to Cindy Bullens’ songs for her late 11-year daughter from “Somewhere Between Heaven & Earth.” What am I saying? Joan’s song is that good.
By the time she started her two late ‘90s classics “Saint Teresa,” & “One of Us,” (the Hooter’s Eric Bazilian penned hit) the audience was hooting, hollering, applauding & some eyes were misty. The concert closed with another Dylan piece. Earlier she sang his intense “High Water,” which instead of being rootsy & bluesy was filled with vitality & a piquant guitar. The closer was the classic Dylan “Gotta Serve Somebody,” — but this was not as exhilarating or as exceptional as the enthusiastic “Shake Your Hips.”
Joan Osborne’s performance never faltered. It was a mixed-age crowd too in the 600+ seat Newton Theater. Young faces & middle-aged ones responded excitedly. Joan’s between-song patter was charming & personalized. Always an entertaining artist her show on this night was nothing short of classy. I’d see this woman again…and again.
Musicians – Joan (vocals/acoustic guitar/snare drum/shakers/tambourine), Jack Petruzzelli (all guitars/vocals) & Will Bryant (keyboards/grand piano/vocals).
Her new CD “Nobody Owns You” will be available in September. Concert dates are listed @ https://joanosborne.com/
Pictures in this review aren’t from the August 5th Newton Theater concert. Color image courtesy of Joan’s Facebook & with gray t-shirt courtesy of The Patriot Ledger. CD cover color image courtesy of Laura Crosta.
All pictures, images & CD art displayed in any review were sent from publicists, the artists themselves their websites/Facebook, or PR reps. When available all photographer credits will be noted.