Jonathan Wilson is a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer. He has worked with numerous musical legends across an equally diverse tapestry of musical styles. Most recently, Wilson has both contributed to Roger Waters’Is This the Life We Really Want? album and is touring with Waters as one of his guitarists.
Last week, Wilson released a new studio album entitled Rare Birds that features contributions from Father John Misty, Lucius, Laraaji and Lana Del Rey. Rare Birds is a true thing of beauty; a modern take on 13 original songs that lift from musical luminaries like Frank Zappa, Talk Talk, Peter Gabriel and The Byrds - the material managing to sound both relevant and retrospective in the best possible ways.
The third night of Wilson’s Spring tour supporting Rare Birds saw the musician and his four touring band-mates take the stage in Toronto at The Great Hall for an intimate evening of almost two hours of original material that featured ten of the thirteen songs on the new album. Thank God the new album is amazing, as this could be a move that would irritate fans of his earlier work. There isn’t a weak song on Rare Birds, so there wasn’t much to complain about in this regard at all.
As far as older material goes, Wilson included “Dear Friend” (off of 2014’s Fanfare) along with “Dear Friend,” “Valley of the Silver Moon,” and “Can We Really Party Today” (off of 2011’s Gentle Spirit). There were numerous trippy visuals projected upon the band for the duration of their set, a performance that boasted many intricate guitar solos amidst a level of musicality way to large for the intimate venue we were witnessing this musical experience in.
Highlights from this evening’s show were songs like “Trafalgar Square,” “Dear Friend,” “Sunset Blvd,” and title track “Rare Birds”. I haven’t left a venue as impressed as I was with this evening’s Jonathan Wilson show in a long while.
As an added bonus, Kate Boothman opened this evening. Boothman recently released an album of original music that she recorded with Loel Campbell and Tim D’eon of Wintersleep. This evening, the mighty Ian Blurton strolled out on stage and was off to the left side of the stage for the entire set playing guitar just out of reach of the stage lighting. Boothman’s material reminded me of some of the things I love most about Tanya Donelly’s music - with a dash more electric guitars. Boothman performed five songs off of her new album along with two other tracks. This evening was her 5th time performing this solo material, and her material came off swimmingly.
Jonathan Wilson’s Setlist:
01. Trafalgar Square
03. Over the Midnight
04. Dear Friend
05. Miriam Montague
06. There's a Light
07. Sunset Blvd
08. Desert Raven
09. Loving You
10. Living With Myself
11. Rare Birds
12. 49 Hairflips
13. Valley of the Silver Moon Encore:
14. Can We Really Party Today
Hear the single and title track “Rare Birds” right here.