[Jandek] Glasgow Monday

Seth Tisue seth at tisue.net
Tue May 24 05:08:24 PDT 2005

Barry Esson came onstage beforehand and announced that Jandek would be
playing a "meditative" set of about 90 minutes and that we'd want to sit
down.  There were only a few chairs in the room, so mostly we sat on the
floor.  He also requested that if anyone were to get up and leave they
should do so quietly; there had also been signs to that effect posted
around the venue.

Reportedly the title of the night's performance was "The Cell", but it
wasn't announced or posted, so I can't be certain that's official.

The house lights came down, leaving only some quite dim blue stage
lights to illuminate a drum kit, double bass, and grand piano.  Alex
Neilson and Richard Youngs came out of the door by the side of the stage
and took their places, followed by Jandek, who walked slowly and
deliberately across the stage and took his seat at the piano, placing a
sheaf of lyric sheets on the stand above the keyboard.  The piano bench
was against the wall on the audience's right, so Jandek was facing the
other musicians.  I'd staked out a spot on the floor in front of the
piano.  The stage was only about two feet high and the audience could
come right up to it, so unlike the more distanced setup in Gateshead
(high stage, seats), Jandek was, like, RIGHT THERE.  Without his hat,
and without a guitar, he was less of a costumed figure, more simply

The first section was instrumental.  Jandek's piano playing wasn't at
all what you'd expect from his only recorded performance on piano, the
long and predominantly quite wild solo piece on "The Beginning".  The
piano was a high quality instrument, normally tuned, and everything he
played was slow and deliberate: totally consonant, melancholy Satie-ish
melodies walking gently up and down the white keys, often just single
notes, some gentle chords, transparent, not dense, the two hands
coordinated but independent, not in lock-step.  Richard accompanied with
slow, somber long tones played with the bow, confined to a narrow range
of pitches.  Alex played hushed and intermittent drum sounds, brushes on
cymbals, the lightest taps on the bass drum.

We didn't know whether to applaud when the first piece completed, so we
remained silent.  Later it became clear we'd made the right choice,
because the evening was one long suite.  There were sections with short
pauses between, but the whole suite was quite consistent in tone and in
musical material, and held together as well by recurring phrases in the
lyrics.  In the second section Jandek began to sing...

Gotta run.  More later!

Seth Tisue - seth at tisue.net - http://tisue.net
"We have some ontological problems and now I think
a whole pile of shit is coming from the cosmos." - Bela Tarr

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