Nottingham Rescue Rooms 15-05-04
After having waited eight years to see Jesse Malin live I now find myself in a position I never dreamed possible… That of being in one of my local venues, Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms, hundreds of miles from NYC surrounded by a packed crowd who are just as excited about Jesse Malin’s music as I am. Tonight is the eighth time I’ve seen Jesse perform live in just under 18 months. Despite this I’m as excited as ever, and as the lights dim and the intro tape sets the atmosphere with the Bo Diddley classic ‘Pills’, my anticipation for tonight’s show is just as great as the first time I saw Jesse when he supported Ryan Adams at the Manchester Apollo. That night all I wanted to hear was one D Generation number… It never happened! But I did get to hear two brand new tunes, ‘Silver Manhattan’ and ‘Arrested’, and had the opportunity to speak to Jesse before and after the show. And a few days later - and after some polite pestering - my wish was fulfilled when Jesse played ‘Capital Offender’ during his debut London solo headlining appearance at the Spitz! Not written by Jesse, but a D Generation song all the same. Now I’m trying to move on from my obsession with D Generation, a band I never got to see perform live.
For me, there’s never been a huge gulf between D Generation and Jesse Malin, anyway. Just listen to the next single ‘Mona Lisa’… it is just ‘No Way Out’ for 2004. So tonight, when Jesse and his band appear on stage I’m ready (and wanting) to hear the new material from his forthcoming album The Heat. But Jesse wants to warm us up first with a couple of familiar songs from his debut solo album The Fine Art Of Self Destruction. Then we get to hear the first new tune of the night, ‘Swinging Man’. Jesse seems more integrated within the band than previously and for the first time I feel like I’m actually watching a Rock’n’Roll band and not a solo artist. More new songs follow interspersed with what are now soon to become the old classics from Jesse’s debut. ‘New World Order’ sounds like quite an angry affair reminiscent of the Jesse Malin of old (if you believe he’s ever changed direction)… In fact this song has even taken the line “She dances slowly totally exposed, He hides his anger in thousand dollar clothes” from an early PCP Highway song called Runnin’, which incidentally was included on the only album (To Be Somebody) from Jesse’s previous incarnation, Bellvue, as ‘Money Runner’. ‘Arrested’ is preceded by one of Jesse’s old stories with a few new twists while ‘Silver Manhattan’ gets the full band treatment. Personally I prefer the acoustic version which I think preserves, and better conveys, all the emotion of this beautiful song. Jesse always chooses his cover versions wisely and tonight these include Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’ and an old favourite, Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart’, a song Springsteen originally penned for the Ramones after meeting Joey Ramone in 1978.
As usual Jesse manages to fluctuate the mood of the show from one of almost outright anger, to a perfect atmosphere of just vocals, piano and a lifetime of compressed, heartfelt experiences, for the delivery of ‘Cigarettes and Violets’.
During the encore Jesse tries out another new song called ‘Hotel Columbia’ which again feels like it has been written for a band situation rather than a solo artist. And as the show reaches its climax Jesse drops his guitar for a lively cover version of Elvis Costello’s ‘Oliver’s Army’. Jesse appears to be freed from the constraints of playing his guitar, and the pace of the song is hectic if not even a little erratic at times as Jesse hands the vocal chorus duties to members of the audience. At last Jesse is really letting go, this is fucked up Rock’n’Roll erupting in front of me. This is Jesse letting the music physically take control of his body and emotions… CHRIST! This is almost D Generation!
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