Jose Contreras The Rocket Room, St. John's NL, April 26

Jose Contreras The Rocket Room, St. John's NL, April 26
Photo: Roberto Granados-Ocon
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Jose Contreras said he was nervous but it never showed. After playing a couple of sets in town in as many days with his iconic band By Divine Right, he took the stage by himself and said he missed his band buds. But the songs from his yet-to-be-released solo album and the ones that were too new to make it were funny and tender and assured.

Contreras and his effects-laden acoustic guitar gave "Listen to my Angels" a pulse and an early Bowie vibe, while a song about his practice space, a converted slaughterhouse, mixed music control room innuendo with dad jokes just like John Lennon did towards the end of his life. As with much of this performance, it was tender and amusing. For a song he wrote this past New Year's Eve, he got the whole room to punctuate a chorus by yelling "Happy New Year!" and, every time, it felt like the ball just dropped. Some people hugged. Warmth and joy; Jose Contreras is filled to the brim.