Jon Langford looked truly puzzled on the stage of Maxwell’s.
The Welsh-born rocker has played at the Hoboken, N.J., club many times — “37 1/2… the half because tonight’s not done yet” — over the years in many bands, from the Mekons to the Three Johns.
“Did the Waco Brothers ever play here,” he asked, during a portion of the set where his cranked out several of that band’s best-loved tunes.
“Three times!” came the cry from the crowd.
Jon still looked puzzled. He has many memories of playing at Maxwell’s, but as for doing it with the Waco Brothers, “those files have been deleted,” he quipped with a grin as he pointed to his head.
While his memory failed him on that point, it certainly didn’t fail him in any musical way, as he and his mates ripped through a scad of songs in two sets (he was his own opening act, playing a song or two by himself until the rest of the band got around to joining him) that had the comfortably not-quite-sold-out crowd dancing and going wild.
He was obviously in fine form and at his most “coherent,” as he called it. (He remembered falling asleep onstage at Maxwell’s during a set back in the days. The Jon Langford we saw this time was a man who simply couldn’t stop — let alone fall asleep — onstage.)
He joked about Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, laughing at the cover line of the new Chicago magazine featuring Tweedy’s picture: “Don’t Call ‘Em Dad Rockers.”
“This is Dad Rock,” pronounced Langford proudly, noting that he and his bandmates all are dads.
Between the songs — the lyrics of which he forgot just once (“What did I just sing? That was an anagram!”) — he kept the banter going with bad jokes and snotty remarks about Mekons bandmate (and Fred Armisen ex) Sally Timms.
“I went to the doctor recently, and he told me I had to stop masturbating,” Langford announced. “I asked him why.
“Because I’m trying to take your pulse!” he concluded, to a cymbal shot from Goulding.
His made some pointed jokes about Timms were pointed. In one story he accused Timms of farting onstage during a Mekons show at Maxwell’s and blaming the smell on the violinist.
“There are some things you just don’t forget,” he said. “Smells, tastes…”
He also said he had invited Timms to join him for the hastily arranged Maxwell’s farewell show.
“We tried to get Sally Timms to come, but she just couldn’t be fucking arsed, and that’s a quote,” he said, using a colorful slang expression for “bothered.”
He also managed to bring along the iconic merch team of Dennis and Lois, who handled those duties for many bands in the 80s, and who we met in their other guise as the World’s Biggest El Vez Fans. (By the way, El Rey de Rock and Roll has a new album, God Save The King: 25 Years Of El Vez, coming out soon, so stay tuned!)
Whatever Dad Rock is, we love it. Langford and company provided a transporting evening of entertainment in their final appearance at Maxwell’s.