|Jesse Malin & The St Marks Social - Bristol, The Fleece - 29th November 2011|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Friday, 09 December 2011 05:00|
Jeez, if I ever needed some P.M.A in my life it was tonight. Everything that could have gone wrong for this scribe within the 24 hours leading up to this show did, with bad vibes coming at me faster than Dave Prince's sexually ambiguous tweets. Things just couldn't have gotten any worse, or so I thought, until my car's engine decided to give up the ghost about an hour before I was due to set sail for this the last night of Jesse Malin's UK tour celebrating the tenth anniversary of his debut solo album ' The Fine Art of Self Destruction'.
So "muchas gracias" to a detouring Mrs Daley (yup Dom is married, I know that's going to break a fair few hearts out there) who unselfishly offered to give me a lift, sensing I'd probably be a totally broken man if on top of everything else I missed tonight. A few quiet pints in the pub next to The Fleece later and with the prospect of seeing Jesse Malin back in the saddle as a solo artiste looming large, suddenly my P.M.A was restored, and I was ready for some 'Fine Art' played in sequence and in its entirety.
Having started their touring lives together some 20 months earlier over on the other side of this very city, it seemed somewhat prophetic that the St Marks Social would choose to bring down the curtain on their touring schedule right back where they started, and as The Ronettes 'Be My Baby' resonated from out of The Fleece's superb sound system I suddenly got the feeling I was about to witness something very special indeed - and what was that about having a bad day?
As Spector's infamous wall of sound morphed into Malin's not quite as famous Delancy St wall (as captured on his debut solo albums cover art) the opening trio of tunes 'Queen Of The Underworld', 'TKO' and 'Downliner' sounded razor sharp and as vibrant as the day Ryan Adams set about recording them - in fact maybe even more so, with the tension of the band's performance building along with the sinewy songwriting. As tonight's show unfolded so did the story behind 'The Fine Art of Self Destruction' with Malin on particularly fine form as the narrator of fascinating tales regarding how a $30K relocation package helped fund the recording of the album through to the alleged drag queen tendencies of a well known eighties UK new wave star when said individual was stepping out on the Lower East Side. When applied to his songwriting we also found out how 'Jenny' became 'Wendy' and how the title track of his album was about OD'ing on Super Sugar Smacks, all classic stuff and totally enthralling.
Having witnessed Malin's very first UK tour promoting 'The Fine Art' the difference when hearing the St Mark's Social deliver the same set of songs is simply breathtaking. Todd Youth's guitar solos might be as long as a sneeze but the feeling and phrasing of his playing had me thinking of Neil Young at times and displayed yet another twist in his six stringed talents. Special mention must also go out to Ty Smith and Johnny Martin who are the backbone for everything that goes on around them providing the dynamic that drives the very heart of the Social, and let's not forget Derek Cruz who helped sprinkle some magical touches all over tracks such as 'Solitaire', 'Xmas' and 'Cigarettes And Violets'.
I'm not going to give too much away regarding tonight's performance as the whole tour was being captured for an upcoming documentary, but if the way Malin entered the stage for the first encore of 'Mona Lisa' doesn't make that piece of celluloid then I'll eat my pork pie hat. With the band's flight back to the US ready and waiting to leave there was just enough time to run through 'Burning The Bowery', 'All The Way From Moscow' and 'Instant' Karma', before a solo rendition of 'Bastards Of Young' with Derek Cruz on piano brought a stunning show to a sublime conclusion.
It may sound hypocritical to hear me saying this right now , but after god knows how long droning on about Jesse not recognising his work with D Generation, and having seen both D Generation and Malin solo within the space of a few months of each other it's actually his music with The St Marks Social that has left the greatest mark on my black heart, and in spite of Jesse warning he may be taking a long break from his solo stuff (whatever could he be alluding to there I wonder?) I for one actually felt gutted to hear that, as I honestly can't wait to hear what this band will come up with next. P.M.A Johnny boy P.M.A.