September this year marks ten years since I made my first, tentative and over-sharey, foray into blogging. I hope you’ll forgive a little self-indulgence on my part, but I’d like to do something to celebrate a pretty significant milestone. I’ve hit upon the idea of publishing some selected takes from my archives – there’s a little bit of poetic license required here, as some of the proper cringeworthy teenage stuff is (thankfully) lost in the mists and pixels of cyberspace, but what I’ll publish every Friday from here until the end of the year is culled from the LiveJournal years, 2003-2006.
Milo and others have posted about the future of Edinburgh venue The Bowery recently. It’s not a place I’ve ever visited, as I don’t get the opportunity to go through to Edinburgh much these days, but comparing the dearth of decent venues in the capital when I lived there to the thriving local scene at the moment I wouldn’t like to see anything jeopardise that. This week’s post tells of a particularly great night at The Venue, which was one of my favourite places in Edinburgh at the time and which closed soon after.
9th March 2004
“”We’ll be groupie whores,” said Kaite, as we shivered along a freezing Princes Street in thin t-shirts and badge-covered denim jackets. “Well… you’re the groupie. I’m just a whore.”
What? Could it be three entries in a row about music, something decidedly more important than pretentious turns of phrase about angst and misery, held together by the fragile thread of poor sentence structure in entries that start out heading nowhere and rarely disappoint? In last Friday’s Alternative and Radical Media lecture we had a couple of guest speakers in from IndyMedia, and I’m proud to admit I felt significantly shamed that I tend to waste my webspace on the sort of shite that has lost all relevance by the time I wake up in the morning.
Not that I didn’t spend all morning in bed recovering from a weekend of ragged, broken sleep and fits of uncontrollable tears but hey, who cares? Jesse Malin and tequila to cure all woes I say, and a few extra illicit hours in bed doesn’t hurt either.
The thing is, under pressure of deadlines or in the middle of the grey space of everyday routine, it’s easy to pretend I have a boring life. But every so often – not always where gigs are concerned, but they seem to be the ones I really write about – I have to pinch myself to double-check this really is my reality. I spent last night curled up at the foot of the stage where Jesse Malin, the Jesse Malin, the mysecondfavouritebandorartistintheworld Jesse Malin was performing, my back against a monitor and feet on a pillar, swaying and singing along to most of the words.
And that’s not even the best bit.
I’m well aware that I have a tendency to refer to every Jesse Malin show as the best one I’ve ever been to, but I’m going to do it again. Edinburgh’s Venue is intimate and cosy – as evidenced by the fact I was sitting onstage for most of the show and nobody said a thing – despite shocking bar prices, and was well suited to a low-key acoustic performance that felt more like a crowd of friends hanging out for a jamming session in somebody’s front room than a Concert. “It’s the last night of the tour,” Jesse said, “just me and my friends from Glas-gow and Edinbur-row.” He was smiling mischievously as he made the usual mispronunciations.
Support came from former Cosmic Rough Riders frontman Daniel Wylie and his band in their first ever acoustic show, the drummer trying his best to look hard with a tambourine and a grouchy bass player at the back wondering what the fuck was going on. The songs were pretty enough but instantly forgettable, and didn’t really seem to work unplugged.
Jesse, accompanied by keyboardist Christine Smith, was in his element. He opened with my two favourites from The Fine Art of Self-Destruction, “Downliner” and “Wendy”; then the song I’ve always complained about never getting to hear live and my favourite Jesse song ever, “Cigarettes and Violets”.
Kaite and I competed to see who was most dead of happiness.
The setlist was the perfect blend of oldies (all my favourites bar “TKO”, the song that inspired me to change journals after my last Jesse gig, which would never have worked acoustic anyway); newies (“Mona Lisa”, “Columbia”, “New World Order”, “Silver Manhattan” and “About You” are just five reasons I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL MAY FOR THE NEW ALBUM I NEED IT NAAAAOW!!!); live favourites like “Basement” and the cover of “Hungry Heart” that always makes me giggle; tequila, and good stuff at that, a bottle of which Jesse passed around the crowd for us all to take a shot; and Jesse’s own unique brand of storytelling.
And about five songs in I won the “who was most dead of happiness” contest unequivocally when Jesse came over to where I was sitting. “You doin’ alright?” he asked me.
“Ye-yes,” I must have managed, because he said, “Good,” and then, “What’s your name?”
It is Lisa-Marie, isn’t it?
Gig detritus to add to my collection – a plectrum I didn’t even have to fight for because it was lying on stage right next to my hand, and a signed ticket. With kisses. The boys I was next to – friends of a friend of Kaite’s we’d met I’d been making jealous with the pieces of Ryan Adams I carry with me everywhere and impressing with my taste in REM songs – got plectrums too.
“You know how you get these first impressions of people, and they usually turn out to be wrong?” Kaite said to me earlier in the evening. “It was different with you – the first time we met I had a feeling our future would involve scribbling in journals, and vodka.” Since I moved to Edinburgh Kaite has instructed me in the ways of cocktails, tiny cinemas and spending money. Now she’s seen a bit of my world, and from what she was squealing into her friend’s answering machine on the way home after Jesse had complemented her on her t-shirt – “I’ve just had a religious experience, I don’t want to be a lesbian anymore” – I think she enjoyed it.
And the best thing is he’s back at King Tut’s on May 20th – the usual suspects are being rounded up as I write and I don’t care what exams it clashes with. “We’ll be back electric, with the band,” Jesse promised, “we’re not altcountryhardcore, I hate to disappoint you.” But anybody who thinks Jesse Malin is riding on the coat-tails of that guy who produced his first album should be shot.