Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Live Review: Jon Cleary and The Absolute Monster Gentlemen - 3/22/24 Bitter End, NYC

Jon Cleary and The Absolute Monster Gentlemen 
3/22/24 The Bitter End NYC 

On a blustery cold March Friday night in New York City, the New Orleans based Jon Cleary, along with his Absolute Monster Gentlemen (Cornell C. Williams on bass and A.J. Hall on drums) delivered a taught two hour set to the sold-out crowd at the legendary Bitter End in Greenwich Village.  

Cleary was in a great mood all night as the trio kept things moving and showcased a bunch of new music from an upcoming album alongside some classic R&B and funk favorites from the Big Easy. The night began with a spin through "Uptown Downtown" as a bunch of NoLa neighborhoods got shouted out as Hall's driving drums (a true highlight all night) brought the song to a close with a nifty solo.

The upbeat R&B rolled into "So Damn Good" as Cleary's restrained vocals and piano playing took centerstage as the veteran artist unleashed a ripe solo to wrap up the tune before the Fats Domino inspired "Bin A Li'L Minit", a pure upbeat boogie. Cleary took some time to tell the NYC crowd about the infamous "Zulu Coconuts" then played his original funky, whimsical, bawdy tune, delivering it with smiles and joy. "Pickle for a Tickle" kept the light hearted feeling flowing around a slower start before  kicking up with passion and a rhumba rhythm that flowed into an electro funk cover of The Meters "Just Kissed My Baby" as the sold out house sang along.  

Things stayed funky with "Loose Booty" as Williams bass shone bright around off kilter drum breaks before Cleary took the reins for an extended take on the Professor Longhair classic "Tipitina" which found the artist leaving the piano to play percussion on a cowbell as the crowd clapped and Hall took one more exciting solo. Another classic cover followed as the trio delivered their take on Lee Dorsey's "Lottie Mo" as the pleading vocals from Cleary flowed out. 

The band kept it nice and slowed down for the sweet ballad "Frenchmen Street Blues" showcasing their nuanced playing before bringing the energy back up via the cool groove of "Unnecessarily Mercenary" and the blues vamping of "Black Drawers On". 

Cleary mentioned that he loved the venue and especially the funky piano onstage at The Bitter End, mentioning that it is the same one from one of his favorite albums ever, 1971's Donny Hathaway's Live. Then he delivered his own smoldering R&B with "Smile in a While" before the greasy blues of the tempo shifting "Let's Get Lowdown" got everyone up and dancing. Cleary wrapped up the set with a tribute to Dr. John, delivering a very direct version of "Such A Night", as he said to "keep the tradition going".

The group wasn't done though as the encore was delightful, starting with the funky groove of "Cheatin' On You" before the joyous "When You Get Back" had the crowd cha-cha'ing all night long indeed. A fantastic set from Cleary, Williams and Hall as they brought some warm weather vibes to the Big Apple, illuminating a bleak early spring night in the village.
Support the artist and peeps some video below from the show:

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