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The Rock Show: Juliana Hatfield With The Gentlemen
Posted on Sunday, August 28 @ 10:10:15 MDT by roadrash
 ShowsIt has been a dozen years and 5 plus releases since Become What You Are broke Juliana away from Evan Dando's shadow. And while she's enjoyed moderate success, she just never was comfortable with the rock star status that she felt was prematurely assigned to her after that LP. Yet it was that springboard release that provided the backdrop for this 21 song set and the cover for the uncomfortable ness that the Boo created for the main attraction.

Juliana Hatfield with The Gentlemen
Story and photos by G. Gone

A boo rose from the crowd just after Juliana Hatfield's 5th song to a maximum capacity gathering at Caf� 9. Out of context, it was somewhat out of place. The 100+ people that were sandwiched between the bar, stage and tables against the far wall (where many stood on the benches for a glimpse of this anti-rock star babe) were loving everything that Juliana and her band was giving them, as were the unfortunates who were listening to this sold out show from outside on the sidewalk.

The Gentlemen, from Juliana's native Boston, MA, opened the show with a tight, ripping, 40-minute set of English blues rock straight out of the early days of The Rolling Stones, with a dash of New York Dolls swagger. Their rhythm section, Ed Valauskas (bass) and Pete Caldes (drums), pulled double duty backing Juliana. It was here, during her introduction of the band, that the boo sounded out. Up until that point it was just straight ahead rock � five songs in succession that were highlighting the fact that Juliana was getting into rockin' her guitar, hitting her vocals to a T, and thoroughly enjoying trading it off with the band, who were jammin'. The trio quickly established a zone in this intimate setting and was working the crowd into a small frenzy.

It has been a dozen years and 5 plus releases since Become What You Are broke Juliana away from Evan Dando's shadow. And while she's enjoyed moderate success, she just never was comfortable with the rock star status that she felt was prematurely assigned to her after that LP. Yet it was that springboard release that provided the backdrop for this 21 song set and the cover for the uncomfortable ness that the Boo created for the main attraction.

You see, it was the first break in the music, and Juliana, who in the past took much of her reclusive ness on stage with her (some guitar leads were still played with her back to the audience), was addressing the fans. She asked how The Gentlemen were and apologized for not seeing their set, as she was wrapped up in the Red Sox game. She said they were going to play a new song, and then proceeded to introduce Ed and Pete, when someone shouted out "Which one you sleeping with?" � that's when the Boo came out; the crowd didn't approve. Here was, granted, a rock star sex symbol, playing her own music for an appreciative crowd, and while there may have been many in the crowd who secretly desired her, who envied her, who lusted after her, and who may or may not have been jealous of her lover/lovers both past and present, they all respected her for what she was doing at the moment � playing a small intimate club, and laying it all out for her art, for her music, for her fans. And these fans did not like what they had just heard emit from their masses.

Perplexed and a bit confused, Juliana asked what the Boo was for, and one of the faithful relayed the comment. With a toss of her short bob she said something to the band and launched into "Supermodel," "5000 dollars a day / Is what they pay my baby / For her pretty face." Maybe it was a rebuttal, but I think it was the familiar territory of the words and music that allowed Juliana to vent without a direct response, because from here on out the show caught fire. Whereas before the trio laid down an intense groove, here they just smoked it. The sound, which earlier was a tad blues jam muddy, exploded with the excellence of rock. Segueing right into another Become What You Are song allowed Juliana to take flight. The light soaring vocals of "Mabel" only confirmed the great sound, and when she proclaimed "Check out that lady/ Check out that lady," you knew she wanted you to see her for what she is.

A couple of new songs, followed by "Houseboy" and "Dame With A Rod," continued to drive home the fact that Juliana doesn't give a fuck who you think she's sleeping with, it's none of your fucking business, so shut the fuck up and listen to the music, maybe you just might get it.

It was non-stop from there, mixing songs from all her releases, playing to an ever enamored crowd and delivering beautiful, soul touching, spot on vocals to such show stoppers as "Sunshine" and the Encore "My Enemy" off last year's underrated and subtly great CD, In Exile Deo. The full set and encore totaled an hour and 20 minutes and when, during the final song, Juliana's amp cut out, she simply said "Goodnight everyone," and the crowd understood. This seemed to please her, so she whacked her amp a few times and was able to finish the song. Without roadies, it was up to her and the band to break down the stage and while they did Juliana herself sold copies of her latest CD, Made In China, released on her own label, straight out of the manufacturer's box.

It has been 12 years since Become What You Are came out. At one time Juliana was concerned about how the public perceived her. Unfortunately, the machine that is the music industry has spawned those with preconceived notions, those who are molded to be what someone else wants them to be and those like the ass that was booed. But Juliana has persevered and has fulfilled her prophecy; she has become what she is and she's out there telling it. I for one am glad I was listening.

VISIT JULIANA HATFIELD ONLINE

-GG
Caf� 9
New Haven, CT
08/10/05

 

 
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