Despite suffering from a cold which rendered his voice with a dirty Tom Waits-like drawl, Jesse Malin, with band, came to King Tut’s with the promise of a set full of classics, new songs and covers. And, with the aid of a little self-medication through a bottle of tequila, he delivered. And then some.
Jesse’s gigs at King Tut’s are always one of the best of any year thanks to the New Yorker’s infectuous passion for music and boundless enthusiasm, and opener Queen of the Underworld indicated that this night would follow that trend. The typical template of a Malin show was followed to the letter in a juggernaut of a rock ‘n’ roll show: old favourites Wendy and Brooklyn were performed alongside covers of The Pogues (If I Should Fall From Grace With God) and The Ramones (Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio) with such aplomb that they could easily have been his own songs.
Despite a large amount of new songs, road tested from his forthcoming new album, the set never lost any momentum, with tracks like Year That I Was Born and She Don’t Love Me Now carrying the same tenacious punk rock energy of Malin’s very best work. If this is how good these songs sound on first airing, his return to these shores to promote the new album next year promises to be even better.
With the down tempo Bar Life giving Jesse the opportunity to bring the audience onto the floor of the venue where he would sit amongst us and tell a story or two. It’s one of those special intimate moments, uniting performer and audience on the sticky floor of a rock club, that makes these shows such a great experience.
There was a moment in the encore where Jesse unravelled a black t-shirt which had been thrown onto the stage earlier in the night but he had dismissed because “I thought it was because I was sweating too much.” It had the legend “GLASGOW AS FUCK” emblazed across the front in large white text. He seemed inordinately pleased. The t-shirt was right: there is no better match than Jesse Malin at King Tut’s.