Long Road – A Guided Tour of Pearl Jam’s Dublin Gig

No alternate text! It's late, and I'm tired, and I've already written 2,000 words about this damn gig. More if you count the other post I did, and then the review I sent off for that Metro competition. Which I shall have to enquire about reprinting here, since they're hardly going to publish it, and it'd make for an entertaining counterpoint: the visceral experience of the gig itself, compared to the more reflective experience of listening to the booted leg. But yes: no alternate text tonight. Sorry chums! Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

The backstory is this: two nights ago, while loafing near a PC in a fog of sleep-deprived insouciance, I embarrassingly paid ten American dollars for the official “booted leg” of Pearl Jam’s recent Dublin show. As I detailed previously, I attended the show filled with a mixture of excitement and thinly-veiled disgust (joined mid-“Comatose” in the melting pot of my mood centre by “apathy, bordering on violent boredom”, but certainly came away from the gig with a favourable impression of the unflinchingly earnest old sods.

So the question became this question: how would the recorded document hold up to the surprisingly inoffensive memory?

Um. Not well.

So here for your bloodshot, probing eyes is a painstakingly detailed account of my reactions to this “booted leg”.

(Endure this unbearably verbose mess…)

Deborah Crooks: It’s All Up To You

This image was lovingly pinched from what I presume to be Crooks' own Flickr account, so I don't think I'm stepping on anyone's photo copyrights here. Extravagant purpley-flora border was added by the author. Me. I added it.I have returned to my reviewing ways over on ZME Music with this unhurriedly written piece about Deborah Crooks’ vaguely new EP It’s All Up To You. I say “unhurried” – in actual fact the record was released in March, a good four months ago, and Crooks herself e-mailed me the .rar of the EP very nearly a month ago. I’m a right lazy git, me. Bits of the review look like this:

As opposed to some of Crooks’ more obvious peers – the likes of Sheryl Crowe, and perhaps a tired Alanis Morissette – what Stradlin’s record shares with It’s All Up To You is an easy, summer road-trip, I’ve-listened-to-a-lot-of-Rolling-Stones-and-I’m-not-afraid-to-show-it kind of vibe.

This is especially obvious on EP opener “Let’s Move”, which is about as intrinsically Stones-ian as making dubious romantic advances on an attractively under-aged youth. But, unlike one of Ron Wood’s Saturday evenings, this is a thoroughly pleasant experience: the guitars have just enough chunkiness to give the song some drive, but are warm enough to complement the song’s gently enthusiastic tone.

I slightly regret not writing the review a little sooner – it sounded agreeably summery during the spate of unfashionable sunshine we resolutely endured over the last month or so, but now, set against a backdrop of gloom and wet and awfulness, it’s like I’m being taunted by a rough gang of Californian empeethrees.

Ham Sammich – Whelan’s 15/5/09

So I’ve reviewed last night’s Ham Sandwich gig on ZME if you want to direct your peepers that-a-way. It contains words like these:

One of the most striking things about Ham Sandwich is that there’s never any doubt where your attention should be be directed: if Niamh’s and Podge’s singing doesn’t draw your focus, their choice of attire will fix that oversight. (Even moreso last night, since energetic bassist/songwriter Johnny Moore has lately taken his leave of the group, replaced by the quietly stationary David McEnroe.) Last night’s outlandish garb included a dress made of shininess (that was Niamh, natch), and a colourful suit reminiscent of that worn by Rupert The Bear (Podge (the Rupert The Bear likeness was something of a running joke throughout the night. Ham Sandwich: the kind of band who have a running joke throughout a gig. Excellent.))

What I didn’t mention in the review were the memorably awful support band, Kid Karate, who shoutingly failed to be interesting in anything but the most grimly fascinating of ways (and yet still managed to be slimly preferable to previous support band, the possibly secretly ironic tuneless grief-makers, The Funeral Suits). Kid Karate’s singer seemed to blow out both of his own lungs in the process of attempting to sing, before closing their set with the damningly mutual epithet “I don’t give a (furtive look – Ed) about you!” Their set was not a pleasant experience, and I’m in the process of attempting to expunge the memory through a combination of wilfull repression and heroic rum consumption.

The Hold Steady – “Heaven Is Whenever”

Sometimes I write short reviews and pad them out with strange and irrelevant movie scripts or concepts or some such. Sometimes, I write reviews that are far too long without any such nonsense. This is one of those second sometimes. The Hold Steady’s Heaven Is Whenever: ffffaaaannnnttttaaaaaassssttttiiiiccc.

So with guitarist Tad Kubler more front and centre than he’s been since, perhaps, Almost Killed Me, the band’s oft-underrated debut album, The Hold Steady deliver us what they promise is a “less anthemic” record, with nods to more cinematic musical stylings. But since this is The Hold Steady we’re talking about, that basically just means that the anthemic choruses are present and correct, but there are slightly more bits that aren’t choruses. There might also be 40% less “whoa-whoas” than usual, but I’ve yet to do the proper maths on that.

I enjoy music when it is this music.

Mark Lanegan: The Academy, 29/4/10

So this review was written for a very particular format – ie. a magazine review that will remain unpublished – and so contains very little in the way of colour or funnies, and it’s pretty damn short. But no sense in it going completely unused, eh? For an increased quotient of giggles, point your peepers over at all the stuff I’ve been writing on ZME recently.

After being unfairly ignored throughout the 90’s, Mark Lanegan made it almost impossible to avoid hearing his voice for much of the last decade. His world-weary baritone graced albums from acts as diametrically opposed as Isobel Campbell and Queens of the Stone Age (nabbing a Mercury nomination for the former, natch). So it’s unusual that while forgotten bland-rockers Idlewild play the Academy, Lanegan casts his imposing shadow across the tiny Academy 2.

Not that the smaller setting is a drawback. This show sees Lanegan stripping his act down to the bare essentials: Gutter Twins cohort Dave Rosser’s percussive acoustic guitar work, and that voice. That broken, perfect voice. The setlist is splendid, ranging from obscure Screaming Trees treats all the way through to the delicate Can’t Catch The Train from Lanegan’s work with the Soulsavers.

Highlights are many: the swirling melodies of No Easy Action that fade into the bluesy Miracle; the menacing call-and-response of Resurrection Song; and best of all, an astonishingly raw performance of On Jesus’ Program that draws two separate rounds of applause from the mesmerised crowd.

Then a brief encore, a barely-whispered goodbye, and he stalked off again. I’m not sure he opened his eyes once.