Jesse Malin punked it up fine style at The Arts Club and Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody was there to soak in all the atmosphere.
Jesse Malin has embarked on a series of UK and US dates and after tonight, we reckon Liverpool was blessed to have been included.
Originally in a hardcore punk band called Heart Attack at the age of 12, Malin has come a long way, via a stint in glam punk outfit D Generation, to reach his current style of Steve Earle, Ryan Adams inspired, almost poetic songwriting. We were intrigued to see how this one would play out.
It was a kind of Nashville comes to Liverpool type of night with a quartet of singers who have clearly all listened to a bit of Springsteen and Ryan Adams. Certainly they all know precisely how to point to Route 66 on a map.
Pity the smoking ban, then, as this was a gig that should have been powered by whisky and cigarettes. Instead we have to fall back on over priced Tuborg and imagine ourselves to be in Nashville or Pittsburgh.
As the main act and the only full band of the night, Jesse Malin upped the volume and the intensity to deliver a high speed romp through some of his best known numbers. Hotel Columbia being a real highlight at the start.
Interspersed with stories about being American on his travels – re: Trump: I don’t tell anyone I’m American anymore; I’m from fucking outer space. This is feel good music and you can see / hear Malin’s punk roots haven’t disappeared altogether.
There is a very different feel from the recorded output which has a softer, more family friendly appeal. Played live, this was all out aggression and it was wicked.
Even the slower songs in the middle of the set – Brooklyn – didn’t feel like there was a power reduction, just a change of pace. Title track from the new EP, Meet Me at the End of the World was a thumping banging raucous triumph. It just doesn’t sound the same on the cd. This is music that needs to be experienced live and we’re grateful to have been in the throng.
Jesse went walk about for She Don’t Love Me Now taking his mic all the way to the back of the room. It seems like he was loving the gig as much as the audience. More tales of growing up in 80s and 90s New York: “I thought everyone had a cold I was that naive”. Ya know what he’s talking about.
Jesse used not to like Sundays as he realised back in the day that meant he’d have to go to school the next day. His attitude would appear to have changed. “Live life right now motherfuckers. It’s your life deal with that” he implored before launching into Modern World. A blazing rallying cry that could have been the highlight of the night were it not for the follow up Mona Lisa which left us in no doubt this was a cracker of a set. Jesse Malin, take a bow. You did yourself proud.
Except there was more. Stories about drinking with Joe Strummer until 6 in the morning. And the penultimate in memory of Joe Strummer – Rudi Can’t Fail was brilliant. So was the last one All the way from Moscow.
And then the tale of him going out with a girl called Jesse – wasn’t gonna happen. This was a night to savour. Pure gold.
The support acts began with Ed Poole, who came on bang on 7.30 and bashed out a powerful acoustic guitar set. The sparse crowd was a shame, he deserves to be seen by more than the 20 or so who got there early. A strong voice and that kind of punchy guitar style that gives a beat as well as the melodies from the strings. This was enjoyable stuff and, while not necessarily breaking new ground it was well received. His last song The Fractured Sleeps is a pained love song and none the worse for that.
Alex Hulme definitely stepped it up a notch with his KT Tunstall or Ed Sheeran (take your pick) style loops creating backing tracks on the fly. It’s a clever skill and we were impressed. So too with his non matching socks.
Again, we’re left feeling the folky style songs are maybe not the strongest or most inventive but the bar was a high one tonight and in different company the impression may have been different. The audience engaged with Alex and he managed to get them joining in the chorus for a couple of his numbers towards the end of his set. His Leaves EP is on Bandcamp and well worth a listen.
Matthew Ryan is the perfect warm up act for Jessie Malin. The third act of the night to be just one man and a guitar, but this set felt different from the two before.This was stripped down raw singing and strumming from which there’s nowhere to hide. If your voice isn’t up to it or your guitar playing is wanting then these songs will find you out.
Being on his own, Ryan confessed was nerve wracking and we understand his concern but he needn’t have worried. This was a master of his craft performing without a safety net and it was sublime. Neither were we surprised to see a harmonica on the stage. It was used only sparingly but to brilliant effect.
Tunes from new album Hustle Up Starlings transported us to long straight highways and shimmering deserts with only the odd cactus for company. Ryan said on Instagram before the gig that this is the first time he’s been to Liverpool. Getintothis will welcome his return without hesitation.
We’d even buy him a whisky. You know, just to loosen up that voice.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody