[Jandek] Gateshead Sunday

Seth Tisue sethtisue at gmail.com
Mon May 23 08:35:16 PDT 2005

The show yesterday happened!

It was the same trio again: Richard Youngs on electric bass, Alex
Neilson on drums. Jandek all in black again, still alarmingly gaunt,
same black hat, black guitar, lyrics on a lyric stand. Dim blue
lighting, from above, casting Jandek's eyes in shadow most of the

They played 12 songs. I'd estimate 70 minutes?  Musically, it was
similar to "Glasgow Sunday" -- many pleasures, but no big surprises if
you were there last October or heard the recordings.

There was some awkwardness near the beginning -- Jandek brought his
guitar with him from backstage, and then had to spend a full minute or
more untangling a guitar cord, with everyone on the edge of their
seats watching, before he could plug in and play. After only one song
he handed his guitar to someone offstage. At first I assumed he was
going to do a spoken piece, but he just stood there, frozen, looking
down at his hands.  Several tense minutes of dead silence passed. Was
Jandek going to walk offstage after one songs? Start addressing the
audience?  Or what? But then the guitar was handed back to him and the
show went on; he'd broken a guitar string and was just waiting for it
to be replaced.

By the third or fourth song he'd loosened up and was even busting out
some footwork while playing guitar. Even towards the end he'd still
seem tense and uncertain between songs, but then as each song started
up he'd transform into a completely assured performer. He was totally
in command, I mean, he really owned the stage. His singing, guitar
playing, everything.  I hope this comes across on the DVD from the
show last October. The backing from Richard and Alex was totally
simpatico, too. They've each come up with a way of playing which is
unique to this trio. I've heard a whole slew of Richard's records now,
none of which have anything on them that hints at the bass style he
uses with Jandek. And seeing Alex drumming earlier in the festival,
with Ashtray Navigations, helped me understand how he's altered and
adapted his style to suit Jandek's rhythmic concept.

All the songs were new. I jotted down a lot of the lyrics. I'll type
them up and send them out later this week. Most of the words were very
dark and a few were violent. In one, the narrator has killed his
entire family ("and my sister too!") and is being led off to the
electric chair. In another he sang "I'll shoot you in the head, I'll
blow smoke and walk away... you dirty rotten skulking beast." The
first words of the first song were "Depression, there's no way out"
and the third song had the line, repeated several times, "Every
morning when I get up, I want the day to end." Written down, it all
sounds oppressively grim, but in context, the emotions of the words
were exorcised by the cathartic instrumental sections that would

He only acknowledged the audience one that I noticed: about halfway
through, between songs, he half smiled at Alex and Richard. People
started cheering the smile. That made him smile more broadly, and then
the audience went totally crazy.

No photographs were allowed except by the official festival
photographer, Briony McEntire. There was a nice coincidental moment
when she had crept up especially close to the stage with her camera,
pointing it right up at Jandek, and the next line he sang was "Don't
you come around me..."

I could go on, but I need to catch a train to Glasgow now. (At the
moment I'm in Edinburgh.) So, more later.

Reportedly, the performance tonight will be... different.

Seth Tisue - seth at tisue.net - http://tisue.net

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