Jon Brion, the Glen Ridge, New Jersey, -born pop genius, has been based in Los Angeles for many years and rarely performs anywhere else — sticking mostly to the legendary club Largo.
But Brion, who’s worked with important musicians and filmmakers including Fiona Apple, Elliott Smith, Robyn Hitchcock, Judd Apatow, Aimee Mann, Of Montreal, Best Coast, and Paul Thomas Anderson — makes the trek back East every to put on a show once in awhile.
This year is one of those times.
He was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music opera house on Saturday night, joining the Wordless Music Orchestra as it performed his original score to accompany a big-screen presentation of the 2002 Anderson film “Punch-Drunk Love,” which stars Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. (He’s also written scores for “Magnolia,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and last year’s Amy Schumer vehicle, “Trainwreck.”)
He sat in the rear, practically under the screen and pretty far out of view, but took a big bow at the end.
I bemoaned the fact that he was such a small part of the fantastic evening. But seeing and hearing him at all was better than being deprived of his massive talents altogether.
Counting Saturday, I’ve seen Brion perform in New York three times. I managed to get into a show at Manhattan’s Canal Room in 2005 and one of the three Le Poisson Rouge gigs in 2011. I missed his appearances the following year with Apple in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
He tends to perform as a one-man band, using studio-style technology onstage to assemble layers of keyboards, guitars, percussion, and other musical elements into songs. He usually does his own vocals, but often has a guest do a few numbers with him.
As far as I know, and as far as his website goes, he hasn’t played any other gigs here in the last decade or so.
In the wake of Saturday’s gig, Wordless Music is presenting him in solo performance at Warsaw in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Friday, May 6. Doors are a 7 p.m. and tickets, $30 plus the usual fees, are available online — GO HERE.