Julian Lennon on the road: 
Pittsburgh, PA, July 23rd, 1999

Report/Review by Joyce

Special Thanks to Joyce for sending in her report! 

Photograph Smile

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I saw Julian Lennon perform in Pittsburgh, PA on July 23rd, in a small club called Graffiti. This was actually my second Julian Lennon concert, I saw him in '84 on the Valotte tour in a much larger venue. The size of the club really added to the experience, and since the concert had not been highly publicized (shame on you, Graffiti!) the small crowd was full of true fans. It made the concert much more intimate.

Julian made the most of that fact by chatting in between the songs, and taking the time to give the audience some background on each of them. A great move on his part, the crowd loved him. I was impressed by the fact that everyone I talked to seemed to really be rooting for Julian himself as an artist, interested not so much in who his father was as who the son has become. He has transcended being "John Lennon's Son" in the eyes of his fans, it's the critics who have failed to realize that. The applause, long, loud, and often, was for Julian alone.

Julian's album and his live performance showcase a talent that is more disciplined and developed than his father's. His vocal range is greater, his tone more evocative, he has obviously spent time training his voice. Julian manages to be deeply romantic and sentimental without venturing into the land of sick sweetness. The band worked as a tight team during the show, often trading instruments after each number, and rarely missing a beat. When Julian forgot the words to "Saltwater", he laughed at himself, made a quick joke and picked up the next beat of the song to finish without a hitch. Before launching into "I Don't Wanna Know", he explained why he had deliberately set out to do a "mid-sixties kind" of Beatles tune: as an homage to his dad, and as a rebuke to critics who've compared each song Julian's released to his father's entire body of work. The result is a seriously rocking tune, and listening to Julian make an effort to sound like his father is eerie, there is no telling the voices apart. That said, the song has it's own merits and is probably the most commercial track from Photograph Smile.

Julian's standard closing number is "Stand By Me", and when the time came to say goodnight, he was still in good voice and high spirits. I am the same age as Julian Lennon, and I remember the unsure young man who took the stage in Pittsburgh in '84. That person bears little resemblance to the polished professional who was here this weekend. Critics and former fans that wandered away, disappointed that Julian wasn't a carbon copy of dad, now is the time to take another look. No one will dispute the beauty and importance of John Lennon's musical work, but with the release of Photograph Smile they can no longer dismiss his son as an apple lounging in the shade of the tree. This time, it is Julian who is starting over, and he is at the beginning of what should be almost his birthright: a long and distinguished career as one of Rock and Roll's truly fortunate sons.