Domino Records’ Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks roll into Liverpool with their Wig Out At Jagbags LP, Getintothis‘ Joseph Viney is suitably indulged.
It’s not every week that a bona-fide indie legend heads to the city, but former Pavement leader Stephen Malkmus pretty much fits that criteria.
Having made his name with the aforementioned indie-slacker gods, Malkmus’ second wind as an artist and performer arrived with the Jicks. Their last release, January’s superb Wig Out At Jagbags LP, gave the Jicks more releases than Pavement. It’s a reversal of fortune that goes against the trend, but it’s more than welcome.
The Kazimier tonight is like an overcrowded shower room; hot, steamy and teeming. Word gets around quickly in these parts and the anticipation of Malkmus’ visit tonight has gained serious momentum over the last few months.
…and with good reason. Ever since Sonic Youth decided to end their long career with some poor soap opera-esque, tabloid-magazine-tell-all shite, the world has needed another 50+ year old not afraid to still wear band shirts, saggy jeans and scruffy white trainers to step in and fill the void.
Ah, we’re kidding there, but the sentiment remains. Sometimes you need the old guard more than ever, and from the off Malkmus & Co. show just how and why they’ve been in the game so long. Malkmus wears and uses the guitar like a second skin; making complex fret runs and odd time sigs look like the easiest things in the world, even sans plectrum for the most part, and inspiring looks both adoring and jealous from the crowd.
Joanna Bolmes’ bass is the perfect compliment to the unconventional axe wielding. Like any bass player worth their salt, the underlying thud is strong, rounded and relentless. Jake Morris is something of a revelation on drums while second guitarist Mike Clark keeps things ticking over nicely.
Tonight’s strongest showings come from …Jagbags, with Lariat remaining as effective and addictive as it does on record. The biggest surprise of the night goes to an airing of Stereo, one of Pavement’s more recognisable efforts. After spending much of their time purposefully avoiding Pavement tunes, the last couple of years have seen a change in that policy.
It’s a decision made for the greater good. When you least expect a trip down memory lane the journey is a lot sweeter.
Cavalry came attached tonight with ribbons of hype spooling from their limbs, and that can be the poison or the cure of a band’s career, no matter how young or old they may be.
It’s difficult not to see their appeal; broad strokes of well-crafted tunes are ladled over atmospheric backing electronics and vocals that seek to inspire. Imagine Crosby, Stills & Nash (and/or Young) with a northern English twist and we’re sort of there.
All of these gents are able musicians, and it’s genuinely nice to see a group who appear extremely dedicated to the cause hawk their wares and aim for the top.
If we’re looking at some constructive criticism, then a change of pace now and then might be of a benefit. There’s a formula (there has to be), but it’s present on every tune and midway through a set, you’re wondering which song is which. Ironically, it’s a track titled Lament that is the most unique and sprightliest number. Maybe there’s a moral in there somewhere.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Martin Waters