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Daniel Johnston And Friends
It really is astonishing what a low budget independent film can do for the profile of a moderately talented musician who’s prone to recurrent bouts of delusional behavior.
Colm Russell, 25 Aug 2008
But enough about Once…
Tonight’s show is billed ‘Daniel Johnston and Friends’ and the line-up is certainly impressive, including, as it does, sets by members of Sparklehorse, Yo La Tengo and Teenage Fanclub. Led by an infectiously enthusiastic Jad Fair the supporting cast form a makeshift supergroup and open with the sublime ‘Red Dress’. “Put on your dress of orange and I’ll buy you a new door hinge,” bellows the superb Fair, coming on like Neil Young singing a Malkmus lyric. Equally marvelous turns follow from Niblett, Blake and Linkous. However, it’s clear the audience is really awaiting the arrival of the headliner.
Alas, the harsh truth is that Daniel Johnston’s music is overwhelmingly substandard. Indeed, you’ve got to wonder would his performance be so generously received were it not for all the misplaced compassion in the room. Had the likes of ‘Casper The Friendly Ghost’ or ‘Speeding Motorcycle’ been brought into the world by one sounder of mind and lighter of baggage we may rest assured the author would be derided, not worshipped. But such disparities fall on deaf ears in the world of indie-rock, where a traumatic back-story is regarded not only as a badge of authenticity but an affirmation of quality.