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The Griffin was packed for Johnette Napolitano’s Friday night date. We arrived after the opening acts, so fans had their spots staked out — as usual, big and tall “gentlemen” stood up front. We saw Napolitano walk onstage and off; beyond that, no matter where we moved, there was no chance to see her from anywhere in the bar. The fact that she played seated in a chair didn’t help matters.

Despite the limited view, the show was worth the price of admission. Napolitano played solo electric-acoustic, and the sound was loud and crystal clear. Her voice was as good, if not better than when she was in Concrete Blonde. And best of all, she interacted with the audience. She told stories, many from her book Rough Mix, as well as the meanings behind some of her songs, to drawings, to personal thoughts and feelings.

I almost cried when Napolitano introduced the Concrete Blonde hit “Joey” with a tribute to the late great Mark Moreland, whom she wrote the song about, and who was her best friend and possibly most significant other for years. She was sincere, funny, and intense. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the direction of her voice throughout the set.

Napolitano played for about 45 minutes but packed a whole lot of quality material into those minutes. I was hoping she’d play harder rock songs such as “God Is a Bullet” and “Dance Along the Edge.” Even though she didn’t have a backup band, I’m sure this powerhouse performer could have carried them on her own.

  • Concert: Johnette Napolitano
  • Date: January 17
  • Venue: The Griffin
  • Seats: General(ly obstructed)
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