It’s been nearly eight years since José González has put out a solo album, during which time he has been busy with his band Junip, but that changed in February with the release of Vestiges & Claws, his third full-length release under his own name. His solo recordings distinguish themselves from the band by being quieter, more acoustic, and more directly focused on González as a singer-songwriter. So it was no surprise when, on Tuesday night at the 9:30 Club, his show was a sparser affair than when Junip last played at the venue in 2013.
Backed for most of the show by two percussionists, an acoustic guitarist, and a keyboardist (who also played percussion for much of the set), the other musicians on the stage served mostly to bolster what he was doing rather than to stand out on their own. A three-song solo section in the middle of the show highlighted González‘s own skill as a guitarist. In the hands of a less capable performer, it all might have quickly become tedious, but González held the audience mesmerized. For an hour and a half, they were transported to a different world.
While much of the set came from the new album, González also worked in a number of fan favorites from his previous albums, including “Crosses” and “In Our Nature.” He also included several of the covers that he has become known for, such as Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” and The Knife’s “Heartbeat.” A surprise highlight of the set came from a mid-show performance by keyboardist James Mathé, who records under the name Barbarossa, taking the lead to perform the song “Home” from his own upcoming album, Imager.
Icelandic singer Ólöf Arnalds took to the stage to open the show with a short but well-received solo set.
Photos by Matt Condon. Click to embiggen.