Live Review

Jesse Malin, Ruby Lounge, Manchester

Malin will win the hearts of those persons who are smart enough to see him live.

“If you like Nazis, you’ll like Reggae”: Jesse Malin discusses his gripes with the iTunes’ recommendation application to a packed crowd at the Manchester Ruby Lounge, where he is celebrating the 10th anniversary of ‘The Fine Art Of Self-Destruction’, his critically-acclaimed debut album produced by Ryan Adams. It’s probably the same that told some of his fans here tonight that if you like Bruce Springsteen and Ryan Adams, you’ll like Jesse Malin.

That program is not far wrong however as the spirit of Malin’s music and live performance shares much in common with said past collaborators and friends. In fact, the name Jesse Malin has become so synonymous with these fellows that when he tells anecdotes to the Mancunian faithful about the recording of his debut, he simply refers to Adams as ‘Ryan’, assuming we’re all from New York City and on first name terms with him too.

It’s this rare easygoing approachability and knack for connecting with a room full of complete strangers that makes Jesse Malin a particularly enjoyable and compelling performer and that’s before we even get to the tunes, which tonight show us exactly why Uncut gave this record 5*s upon its release and why many of us are joining Jesse on vocal duties tonight.

Not one for false advertising, Malin, backed by St Mark’s Social, plays the album front to back, kicking off with the emotive ‘Queen Of The Underworld’ and later rocking it up with ‘Wendy’, complete with punk rock posturing and microphone grabbing, before taking a more emotive trip downtown to ‘Brooklyn’, where he muses about ‘starting out with nothing’ apart from lonely days and ‘sad songs of doom and gloom’ before his arrival on the scene. A 4 minute autobiographic strum, the performance also showcases a gem-like moment when an enthusiastic blokey bloke gets ahead of himself with the next lines of the song and finds himself appraised for getting the words ‘right,’ unlike Malin’s musician friend who covered the song and misheard the lyric ‘No more trannies near work’ for ‘No more Chinese near work.’ Cue laughter and subsequent helpings of either acoustic power balladry - like ‘Solitaire’, a song inspired by Motorhead’s ‘Stay Clean’, where Malin summons the crowd into clapping along and chanting ‘Na na na-na-na-na’ for an uplifting moment of unity - or upbeat,straight-up rock numbers like the sunny delightful Paul Simon-style pop of ‘Almost Grown’.

Rounding off the album playback with a full band version of ‘Brooklyn’, Malin then returns to the stage for an encore of other songs from his catalogue including ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘All The Way From Moscow’, and bows out with an affectionate solo take on The Clash’s ‘Death or Glory’ as his swansong. After the show he’ll be found at the merchandise stand meeting fans and signing copies of his albums.

Jesse Malin may never reach the dizzy commercial heights of his iTunes recommended artists, but all the better for fans of indie male solo artists in intimate venues like this. For those that do buy into his music, Malin, the man, will win the hearts of those persons who are smart enough to see him live.

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