[Jandek] Philadelphia show

Scott Bateman batetoon at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 17 16:01:38 PDT 2008

Sorry for the late report; it's been a busy week.

First, the venue was ultra-cool; there was a huge bust of Beethoven hovering over the Corwood Representative's shoulder as he played the piano in his Cell-like, minimal style.

The audience was instructed not to applaud between songs, which gave me the impression that this would be a song cycle like The Cell. And indeed, all the pieces sounded similar (the third track's intro even recalled the main musical motif of The Cell). And all the musicians were topnotch.

But all in all, the show never quite gelled for me. I actually think the show would have been much better had it been just the Rep and the harpist, who had a real rapport going. The two wind instrument players, while quite good (esp. the bassoonist), seemed to just be kind of doing their own thing, and I especially found the clarinetist to be distracting from the music rather than adding to it.

Also, the show wasn't compelling for me, lyrically. Nothing stands out as a major theme, no snatches of lyrics remain lodged in my head as after the two Manhattan shows I've been lucky enough to catch. This really surprised me, because lyrics are always a highlight of any Jandek album for me.

Still, it was a privilege to see the Man again; I'm still amazed that Jandek is even performing live after all these years and he never fails to surprise. While it wasn't my favorite show, I think a lot of folks on the list will totally dig it, esp. fans of The Cell. I would love to know how this show compares to other recent shows with similar, chamber-music-like instrumentation, like Grinnell and Boston.

Also--I cannot WAIT to grab a copy of the new Manhattan DVD! Truly the most amazing show I've ever seen--it'll be such a thrill to re-live it and share it with others. 

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