John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones
La Zona Rosa, Saturday, Mar 18
"It's really good to be back in Austin. I mean, that's the truth." Austin-stroking from none other than noted musician, arranger, producer, and Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones. These heartfelt words came after Jones, Nick Briggs, and T. Bryant tore through "Zooma" and "Grind," opening cuts from Jones' recent solo debut, Zooma
. The trio played an entirely instrumental set for the frenzied fans who packed La Zona. Not your average bass player, Jones switched between the 12- and 10-string basses, mandolin, and bass lap steel, while Briggs, looking like a Celtic warlord in a stunning kilt body suit, was simply amazing on the Chapman stick -- a hybrid between a guitar, piano, and bass. When Jones took flight on the bass lap steel, Briggs would hold down the low end. When Jones swaggered in the subharmonic realm, Biggs would soar and scream like a Tasmanian devil, as on "Zooma," where he filled in for Paul Leary's sick studio solo while Leary looked on from the crowd. Showing a more melodic side, next came the downright pretty "The Smile of Your Shadow." Afterward, Jones picked up a mandolin, saying that in 1970 he was given a copy of the Dillards' Backporch Bluegrass
: "After that I was hooked." He went on to say that bluegrass was so influential that, "we started using the mandolin in the act -- with that band," nonchalantly referring to his former group. Jones then proceed to gait through a solo bluegrass number, in spite of poor sound. Bigg's stick and Bryant's drums jumped in, and the song turned more blue than grass as Jones soloed on bass lap steel. With the audience lubricated, the trio then launched into Zep blues classic "When the Levee Breaks," followed by Zooma
's complex "B. Fingers." Having been snubbed by Messrs. Plant & Page in their recent glory-days rehash, Jones seemed perfectly comfortable playing his music, on his terms, to his fans. With Jones cajoling vocal and guitar spirits from his bass lap steel on the two closing numbers "Nobody's Fault but Mine" and "Black Dog," it was clear that the contribution of certain Led Zeppelin members has been severely underrated. No more. With the whole crowd singing the supra-famous "ah-ha, ah-ha ahhhh" of "Black Dog," and sporting a devilish smile as the last thick note resonated throughout the hall, Jones was having a great time. And he wasn't alone. As the show let out, one woman responded to a friend's query with: "No, it wasn't good. It was fucking awesome!"