2 On The Aisle

Julian Lennon  - Jai-Alai Fronton, Tampa, Fl
March 31, 1985
Rock! July 1985

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Julian Lennon On Stage

Julian Lennon carried the weight of his late father on his shoulders as he took the stage of the Tampa, Florida Jai Alai Fronton, but he handled it well. Everyone who has been wondering whether Julian could make it on his own after the novelty his being., "John Lennon's son" wears off, can rest easy. Julian Lennon is for real.

Backed by a tight, six-piece band, led by guitarist/co-writer Justin Clayton and Carlos Morales, Lennon opened with "Well, I Don't Know" and ran through every song from Valotte as well as a few others. These included "Big Mama," unreleased in America, and three songs closely associated with his father, "Stand By Me" "Slippin and Slidin'," and the Beatles' "Day Tripper." A mixed audience of teens and "once and forever Beatle fans" greeted each tune enthusiastically, although the audience was surprisingly subdued during the early stages of the show.

It was not until the band ripped into the bouncy, reggae influenced remix of the hit single "Too Late For Goodbyes" that the ice was broken. Kept securely in their seats by burly security guards for much of the show, a flood of teenage girls surged forward and quickly surrounded the stage, arms outstretched pleadingly to touch or be touched, by Lennon. Stuffed animals and flowers soon littered the low stage. Older members of the audience sat half-smiling, perhaps fondly remembering their days of Beatlernania and enjoying the flood of memories unleashed by this young Lennon who looks and sounds so much like his father.

The resemblance is eerie, but easily pushed aside as Lennon cavorts about the stage. Those who know him solely from his carefully controlled, rather static videos will be surprised at his energy. Dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt topped by a black, safari-type jacket, Lennon was constantly in motion, indulging in a bunny hop here, and a can-can kick there, leaning a his guitarists' shoulders, and wooing the crowd with his smile and characteristically raised eyebrows. Unfortunately, the charm of much of this is lost in the far reaches of an auditorium, particularly when it is stretched to the breaking point by repetition. As any young performer is, Lennon occasionally seemed unsure what to do next or how to pace himself. By show's end he was showing noticeable signs of fatigue.

Despite these shortcomings, Lennon's skill as a songwriter and his stage presence herald a promising future. Julian began his tour under unfairly high expectations and has already managed to silence many who would say he's come this far, this fast, solely on the basis of his last name. This can not be entirely denied. Were it not for his surname it is unlikely Lennon would be headlining a national concert tour. On the other hand, were it not for his surname, he would have been allowed to hone his act and condition his voice for the rigors of touring by appearing in small clubs or as on opening act for an established act. This opportunity was denied him by his name. His name has opened doors for him but it has also forced him to, so to speak, sink or swim on the basis of his own raw talent. Once he takes center stage the novelty of his paternity no longer matters and Julian is on his own. Judging from his energetic, deft handling of this early appearance, Julian Lennon is on his way. The next time around people will go to see Julian Lennon, not John Lennon's son.

-JUNE PRICE

Valotte Bar

Valotte Bar