Last night, my wife and I went to see Jonathan Russell perform at the Dreamland Theatre here on Nantucket. We have seen Jonathan and his band, The Head and the Heart, play many times before.
But this show was different. It was our first time seeing an in person live performance (of any kind) since 2019. I suspect that was true for many/most of everyone else in attendance. Right away, you could feel the excitement and energy with the audience even before he took the stage. Everyone had a smile on but keenly aware of this moment.
And it was also Jonathan’s first in person live performance. He talked openly about coping with the pandemic as a musician and what it’s been like for him. I can’t imagine someone who has sold out large venues felt playing in front of a small audience in some small town after 20 months. You could feel his anxiety and nerves and he said as much over and over again. It was one of the most vulnerable, intense shows I’ve ever been to. So many emotions washing over us all — audience and artist alike. All the sorrow and pain we have shared collectively and alone in our thoughts.
The musical performance was beautiful. Jonathan is getting older. He wears glasses to read. He face has signs of aging. But his voice and art remains something truly special and I’m grateful we had the opportunity to catch his first gig since 2019.