Arthur’s halfway through his ‘four EP’s in four months’ plan, having just released the second, Crazy Rain (QRO review). It was also another event at Arthur’s wonderfully named Museum of Modern Arthur, or MOMAR (QRO venue review), his new art gallery-cum-venue in Brooklyn’s DUMBO area, just off the East River.
The walls of MOMAR are filled with Arthur’s paintings, including in the center of the main space, and a separate room to the far left of the entrance. The actual stage is located on the far right of the entrance. The art in the center of the main space can create a bit of a bottleneck, going from the front half to the back, as people are extra careful when crossing, and sometimes don’t even realize a space in front of a piece of art is actually a pathway.
After Arthur’s backing band, The Lonely Astronauts, started things off by opening up, the man himself took the stage. Messing with his set list, Arthur started off with Our Shadows Will Remain’s “Echo Park”, then “Even When Yer Blue”, from his next EP, Vagabond Skies. But the core of the set was a number of unreleased live stapes, such as the heartfelt “Turn You On”, “Faith”, and “Say Goodbye”. Arthur announced that all would finally be featured on record, in his upcoming August LP, Temporary People. There were also Arthur classics like the more alt-country “Nuclear Daydream”, as well as “King of the Pavement” from the recent Could We Survive EP (QRO review), the first of the four new EPs. He finished the night out with his most well known piece, “In the Sun”; there was a full crowd sing-along on the “May God’s love be with you” chorus. Also in the mix was a wonderful cover of Velvet Underground’s classic “Pale Blue Eyes”, its best since R.E.M. did it on Dead Letter Office like twenty years ago.
Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts playing “Turn You On” live at Museum of Modern Arthur, NY:
(And funny one should mention R.E.M., as none other than their ultra-famed singer Michael Stipe was in the crowd. Along with Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Stipe had covered “In the Sun” for the Hurricane Katrina relief program. He did his best to hide his appearance, with a hoodie and standing in the back. Many fans did give furtive looks back, occasionally checking with one another that it wasn’t just some guy who looked like Michael Stipe. And no one was so gauche as to actually step up and talk to him)
The crowd was filled with Joseph Arthur loyalists – they seemed to know the words to officially unreleased pieces like “Turn You On” more than Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes”. They pleaded for encore after encore. Arthur joked with the crowd about why the shorter records are called ‘extended play’ and the longer ones just ‘long play’, even though extended seems like the longer word. The crowd also joked back, thanking Arthur for the free drinks (though it was, admittedly, relatively cheaper fare like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Trader Joe’s wine – but those are the champagnes of that class of alcohol…). But the crowd retained that artsy, egalitarian nature, from young to old, trendy to more salt-of-the-earth. All in all, it was a memorable evening from a memorable artist in a memorable place.
Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts playing “Faith” live at Museum of Modern Arthur, NY: