Jesse Malin - York Fibbers 10/07/04
By Nick Quantrill
I have to admit it, I'm biased. Jesse Malin rules and I won't have a
word said against him.
Like most people I discovered Jesse's music through his association with
After numerous years plodding along with quite frankly,
bad to mediocre punk bands, best mate Ryan produced and provided backing on his solo
debut album, The Fine Art Of Self Destruction and opportunity knocked.
Gigging relentlessly supporting Ryan Adams and playing small headline shows,
Jesse has started to build a fan-base by word of mouth. On this occasion, rather
than rolling into town with his usual backing band, Jesse arrived for this
four-date UK tour with just his keyboard player, Christine, for company. As such,
I was a little apprehensive about the amount of effort that would go into this gig.
Arriving without fanfare, this gig was a warm up for the following days appearance
at the T In The Park festival.
Like his records in the UK, this gig received minimal publicity but Fibbers
was rammed full with people from all over the north of the country.
I should start the actual review by apologising to Jesse for suggesting his
intentions may have been only to go through the motions bearing in mind the more
important gig the following day.
In truth, I don't think he knows how to play a gig with anything less than 100% commitment.
Although the gig featured only Jesse and his guitar, Christine and her keyboards,
this was rock 'n' roll as it is meant to be. It's not just about being loud; it's about
the feeling. When it comes to soul, Jesse Malin has it in spade-loads.
Opening with the finest moment from his debut album, Brooklyn, Jesse set the tone
for the evening.
It was amazing that only two people were on the stage as it sounded and felt like a
For me, Jesse scored highest with material of his new album, The Heat.
The Heat was self-produced and maybe that was a mistake.
Although the songs are good as those on The Fine Art Of Self Destruction,
the effect of all the overdubs, distortion and having nobody to answer
to detracts from what is so good about his music, namely that you can hear
what sounds like a very tight live band playing just for you.
Stripped down to the bare bones and played just as Jesse must have written
them on his guitar between the relentless gigging schedules, the songs sounded
fantastic, especially forthcoming single Hotel Columbia.
As for what he sounds like, he probably summed it best himself from the stage,
ultimately there are only two kinds of music, good music and bad music.
The choice of cover versions is illuminating if you like that kind of thing.
Over the four dates Jesse played songs by
Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, The Clash and was joined on
stage in London by Shane MacGowan.
It's also rare to hear an American musician who actually has something to
say about the state of America in their music.
It doesn't take a great leap of imagination to work out which American is the
cocaine cowboy going back to war in New World Order or which side of the political
divide he falls into when talking about Ronald Reagan as time + tragedy = hero..
After more than two hours of songs and stories a drained looking Jesse
was finally allowed to leave the stage.
He wasn't quite finished as he was straight round to the front of the venue to
thank people for coming, sign autographs and pose for photographs.
There aren't many musicians like Jesse Malin.
Don't miss him when he returns to the UK in September.
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