[Jandek] Northern Ireland July

Danen Jobe danen1970 at gmail.com
Sun Aug 2 08:14:13 PDT 2009

Gavin, I'm going to respond to both you and Paul simultaneously by saying

In the early days of the UK gigs, we used to get witty, descriptive, damn
near note-by-note reviews like this after every show. That continued well
into the early US gigs, but somewhere after Seattle seemed to get lost. Both
of these sets of FULL TOUR reviews put me there, almost tasting the
ubiquitous beer blurring one gig seemingly into the other. Enjoyed the
Youtube posts (bad sound and all), but mostly enjoyed the writing. I hope
we, as a list, can get back to this sort of discourse with every show
possible (if he plays Antarctica, I understand that none of us may be able
to attend). Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Cheers, gents!

On Sat, Aug 1, 2009 at 12:18 PM, Gavin at Arkhonia <gavin at arkhonia.co.uk>wrote:

> Thanks to Paul Condon for his posting, I've been struggling to find the
> time and
> the words to do likewise all week - made a bunch of scrawled and drunken
> notes
> (alcohol was a big feature of the whole tour) for 3 of the 5 performances,
> and
> took some rubbish snaps of venues etc., but I came away from the tour with
> more
> impressions than observations - hopefully the pics will be more useful at
> grounding the entire tour in a reality that got kind of blurry as the days
> went
> on...
> ***
> Larne *was* an odd starting point, its only real feature being the ferry
> port -
> when we were asking for directions to the venue we were told to look for 'a
> big bar', but the Olderfleet was only big by Larne standards. Were it not
> for
> the myriad of Jandek posters (see crappy pics) we would have had doubts we
> were  in the right place at all.
> As there was no stage as such, there was also no 'entrance', with the
> musicians
> sitting around near the bar upstairs before setting up and playing, so
> there
> seemed much less of a separation between the band and the audience; I felt
> like
> we all were involved somehow. I guessed that the guy next to me was Ross
> Morris
> from this list and chatted briefly (although I was pretty drunk by this
> point,
> so hope I didn't make an oaf of myself), but he had to leave to catch his
> ferry
> back to Glasgow before the end. He looked thrilled right up the moment he
> had to
> go, and it *was* thrilling, and bizarre. And tense: the promoters had been
> warned about the volume beforehand, and there seemed to be a risk that
> there
> would be local complaints, but also curiosity, as Ian Gray had gotten a
> bunch of
> items into local press (will scan and post some of them) - having no idea
> what a
> small town in N Ireland's response to Jandek would be, this tension
> informed my
> perceptions of the performance. The 'whiskey in the jar' drunk eventually
> drove
> away a member of Therapy? in attendance, and visitors from downstairs came
> up
> occasionally, hung around and then left again, and it ended 20 minutes
> later
> than planned, with the sole barman upstairs putting the lights up to drive
> us
> all out. We drank outside afterwards, and there was a group of very drunk
> locals
> doing fantastic singalong versions of Johnny Cash and Abba songs, with a
> genuinely *musical* sensibility at work here that was utterly absent in the
> Jandek performance.
> To me David Keenan's drumming was closer to the untutored bashing of the
> albums than any other live Jandek I've seen or heard so far - he attacked
> his
> kit like a man on a mission to discover what drums were for, but was
> limited by
> his apparent lack of technique, which, combined with Heather Leigh's echoed
> bass playing, made for a very non-rhythmic rhythm section. Keenan broke a
> stick
> and continued with jazz brushes (to no obvious change in either sound or
> style)
> before reverting back to sticks, and his spasmodic bursts of arhythmic and
> angry
> drum assault meant that the whole piece kind of loped in and out of time.
> The Corwood Rep's guitar was very loose, possibly (as with the Cafe OTO
> show
> last year) because it was unfettered by having to carry a lyric; the
> occasional
> 'get in the photo', sometimes stated, sometimes howled, and then finally
> just
> persuasive and insistent, just punctuated the playing, as did the harmonica
> breaks. There were occasions when all the players seemed to be listening to
> each
> other, and then others where they all seemed oblivious to what the other
> was
> doing, in a similar way to The Electric End, and parts of these shows
> seemed
> like an extrapolation of the loose pointlessness of that track, and every
> time
> the lyric reappeared it seemed to mean something different, while still
> being
> baffling.
> ***
> The Bangor show had a different kind of feel, but only by degrees. After
> trying
> to locate some sort of imagined meaning to 'get in the photo', I was
> utterly
> confounded by 'I love shoes more than men', the latter sounding like
> something
> overheard and just quoted, rather than any kind of expression of anything.
> Essentially meaningless. Which gave me a different kind of perspective on
> all
> the shows that followed: as someone at least familiar with every Jandek
> release,
> and having seen 5 of the UK shows before this, it felt to me that this was
> a
> very liberated series of performances, and, without the constraints of
> lyrics,
> 'concept' or technique, *anything* that happened would have been
> acceptable.
> Keenan battered the kit like a man angry with his instrument, destroying
> the
> hi-hat and then placing one cymbal on his snare and bashing that; the bass
> drum
> kept trying to escape from him, but this all seemed like it was what was
> meant
> to happen, that anything in the room *was* Jandek, that, if the ceiling had
> collapsed or the stage were invaded by outraged locals, this would still be
> part
> of the performance. The alcohol consumption may have coloured my judgement
> though...I made notes, but my drunken scrawl is mainly illegible a week or
> so
> later.
> The guitar and bass combined at various points to create weird drones and
> pulses, and Keenan's drums punctuated these pulses, often breaking the
> rhythm
> rather than complementing it; there were the same occasional harmonica
> breaks,
> but there was no obvious structure at all, to any of these performances,
> but it
> also didn't feel like the kinds of improvisation I'd seen before with
> drummers
> like Chris Corsano and Alex Neilson - Keenan's playing felt almost
> anti-'improv', just an a angry 'fuck it' bashing of a drumkit. I watched
> the
> Tribal Aether Glasgow Sunday 2005 DVD last night, and was struck with how
> much
> more innately rhythmic the Corwood Rep's own drumming was in comparison to
> Keenan.
> Much heavy drinking followed in the bar below. Everything was becoming
> hazy, the
> fact that we were in an essentially foreign country (Pete and Jamie were
> from
> London, I had come from Yorkshire) just enhanced the unreality of Jandek,
> on
> tour, in Northern Ireland, with a handful of dedicated people in tow.
> Back to Belfast next day.
> ***
> It pissed down with rain all day in Belfast, so the HMV show probably had a
> few
> people in there just to shelter. My phone pics went up on the Arthur blog,
> but I
> think they didn't capture both the incongruity *and* the familiarity of a
> Jandek
> show in the middle of the day, in a popular city-centre shop - as Paul
> said, you
> started to spot familiar faces, and people who had been at the two previous
> shows acknowledged each other even if they had not spoken (or had, but were
> too
> drunk to remember), and so the sight of the Corwood Rep with David and
> Heather
> huddled into the corner of the store that looked out onto a sheltered
> shopping
> mall didn't feel as fucking strange to me as it should have done. The weird
> was
> becoming normal and normality seemed ever stranger, so a 25 minute
> psychedelic
> drift odyssey with 'all I want is everything' as the sole lyric wasn't as
> odd to
> me as watching anorak-hooded shoppers pressing their faces to the window
> behind
> Jandek to see what on earth was happening...people hung around and chatted
> with
> the band afterwards (some post-gig chat was filmed for a possible college
> film
> project), and the informality, our hangovers, travelling, sleep in
> unfamiliar
> beds, and a need to find a particular Belfast pub all became vague and
> slightly
> confused as we wandered back out into the city centre downpour. I remember
> talking to people before and after the HMV instore, and I remember feeling
> both
> tense and comfortable, chatting with relative strangers. The Jandek
> performances
> did not feel separate from the place or the time or my own feelings, it was
> all
> somehow part of the same thing.
> ***
> Food. Beer. More Beer. Then on from the John Hewitt to the Black Box, which
> is a
> great venue, black walls with a stage (hence the name) with tables and
> chairs
> set up, and due to the number of familiar faces from Larne and Bangor,
> there was
> a sense to me of some kind of shared collective perception, although I had
> not
> really been sober for 3 days, so I'm sure the Belfast reviewer had a much
> greater sense of objectivity than I did.
> I was really looking forward to the Belfast gig, although I was not sure
> why -
> possibly because it was the highest profile show, and the only one in an
> established gig venue with a presumably curious regular clientele. Heather
> was
> sitting down here, as she was at HMV, possibly due to food poisoning after
> Bangor, and her playing may also have been affected by her physical state,
> as she just hit single notes, and Keenan locked into a similarly repetitive
> anti-groove, while the Corwood Rep's guitar, sounding not unlike 'something
> resembling a dentist’s drill turned on inside a wind tunnel' screeched and
> scratched and squalled. To quote:
> > To Jandek's side a female bassist begins playing one note at semi-regular
> > intervals. This note bears no relation to what Jandek is playing, nor
> will it
> > at any point through the remainder of the performance. Eventually one of
> the
> > strings on the bass breaks, but it's not the hindrance one might expect,
> as by
> > this point the bass player has started using a guitar slide to produce
> > tuneless noise.
> >
> > All the while the drummer, puffing his cheeks out and staring madly with
> wild
> > eyes, pounds the drum kit seemingly at random. He occasionally returns to
> a
> > repetitive, almost military refrain, but largely stays away from any kind
> of
> > time signature. Occasionally Jandek moves to the microphone and says,
> 'Last
> > exit to Belfast' before turning his back on the audience and continuing
> to
> > randomly move his fingers across the fretboard of his guitar to produce
> more
> > atonal noise.
> >
> > This goes on for well over an hour.
> This describes what I heard better than I can. While this was again
> different
> only by degrees from Larne, Bangor and HMV, David Keenan's playing had
> reached
> its peak of irritation for me. And the protracted ending, where the whole
> thing
> seemed like it was going to finish and then didn't, for about 20 minutes,
> just
> made me tense, nervous and annoyed. Maybe it was the semi-altered state I
> was
> slipping into, maybe it was worry about the next day (2 hours from Belfast
> to
> Derry, and the then 2 hours back for an early ferry, and a risk of no
> accomodation in Derry due to Daniel O'Donnell fans having the entire town's
> B&Bs
> locked down), the alcohol, the tiredness...but I just felt irked by the
> entire
> Belfast performance, and increasingly so as it dragged ever onwards into an
> endless end, as the Corwood Rep exclaimed 'last exit - to Belfast!', for no
> discernible reason.
> We went back to the John Hewitt for more beer after the show, and,
> soundtracked
> by a rather tourist-oriented Irish folk trio, I have vague recollections of
> drunken ranting, about how much I didn't enjoy the show, about everything
> that
> was wrong with it, and, in then slowly realising, in retrospect, how
> Jandekian
> it actually was. Jandek can be annoying, and maybe sometimes is *supposed*
> to
> annoy. I remember, on first hearing some of the earlier Jandek records, how
> irritating they could be: Irwin Chusid wrote that 'his music is dark and
> gloomy,
> but it won't make you sad - it will make you tense and uncomfortable', and
> that's a feeling that I think I've lost through sheer familiarity. And so,
> at
> least to me, my own irritation with the Belfast performance, like that of
> the
> contentious and affronted reviewer, was a genuine, and almost visceral
> response:
> Jandek might be a sense of meaningless unreason, but rather than attempting
> to be 'confrontational', it just *is*. It's not to like or dislike. Take it
> or leave it, Jandek doesn't care. To quote an earlier poster,
> > I'm wondering when Jandek claimed to be art....or anything else.
> I was too pissed. No more beer. Sleep.
> ***
> The Derry Daniel O'Donnell accomodation problem was exacerbated by a
> football
> match the same night, and we were told rather directly in one pub/B&B that
> we
> were 'in the wrong town at the wrong time' (which would have made a good
> Jandek
> lyric), but we eventually found what may have been the last room available
> in
> Derry in the Bogside (much to the concern of a few people from Bangor we
> spoke
> to), and we had to resort to a Weatherspoons pub as the only obvious source
> of
> vegetarian food in the city, so Sandino's was a very welcoming place to be
> - the
> downstairs bar was heaving inside and out in the evening, although very few
> people were there for the gig. We were asked 'who is this Jan Dek?' by a
> barman,
> and obviously it's a struggle to paraphrase what and why, especially as we
> seemed caught up in the blurry momentum of the tour...good Erdlinger
> bottled
> lagers there, and the upstairs room was very comfortable, leaning back on a
> chaise longue with beers spread out in front of us. Despite my reservations
> about Belfast, I had reconciled my annoyance with an acceptance of being
> annoyed
> - I did feel that I could not do another day of this though, that I might
> slip
> out of normal reality completely if I didn't get home soon.
> Keenan's drumming had been reduced almost exclusively to snare and bass
> drum,
> both sticks hitting the snare in unison, 1-2-3-4, a similarly-military feel
> to
> Belfast, but somehow less intrusive; Heather's bass got some kind of skewed
> slowmotion riff going, and they all seemed to be playing at odds with each
> other, but where Belfast was insistent and monotonous, this sent me off
> into
> another familiar state, that of blank semi-consciousness. The seat we had
> was so
> comfortable, I was so tired, and about 30 minutes in I knew I was drifting
> off
> into a familiar timeless spaceless place: all I knew was that Jandek was
> there,
> and the line 'I'm afraid I don't know - I'm useless' had a kind of amused
> resignation to it, complementing an abandonment of any kind of sense or
> meaning.
> I fell asleep for at least a few minutes while the sound of Jandek was my
> only
> connection with the conscious world. And I missed the altercation with the
> heckler completely because of this.
> This felt like the best of all the gigs so far for me, both musically and
> psychologically, and seemed to tap into the atmosphere of the earliest band
> records without ever referencing those recordings stylistically; David,
> Heather
> and The Rep played their instruments as if they had never seen them before,
> and
> the guitarist's slide playing was almost playful, like 'what would happen
> if I
> did this?', music with all technique temporarily forgotten, and finally
> fizzling
> out to Keenan's solitary tapping on his snare. Fucking amazing.
> More drinking outside, the bar still busy at 2 in the morning, people
> saying
> goodbyes to each other in the company of Derry regulars who only had a
> nominal
> curiosity about what had happened upstairs, while they enjoyed the great
> ska and
> Northern Soul jukebox downstairs; Pete answered one guy's curiosity saying
> 'you
> missed the most interesting thing to happen to Derry in the past 10 years'
> only
> to be corrected: '*Erdlinger* is the most interesting thing to happen to
> Derry
> in the past 10 years'. Despite Jandek having toured N Ireland, the
> performances
> seemed to be isolated little pockets of unreason in an otherwise oblivious
> country - but my impressions of Jandek are utterly bound up with my
> impressions
> of N Ireland, people and place, beer and food, the friendliness of
> everybody
> despite NI's forbidding reputation to the English, and the understated
> passion
> of people, not least James, James and Ian for their resolve in making all
> of
> this happen, and making it seem so easy and so natural. These people give a
> shit, you could see that from the Agitated Radio Pilot performance: it
> mattered.
> This was no half-assed series of noise gigs in shitty pubs (I've seen many
> in
> Manchester), this all felt like something very special.
> ***
> Ok, I don't know how useful this will be to anyone - I intended to keep
> some
> sense of objectivity just to be able to offer an account for list readers,
> but
> that got lost after Bangor. All of the gigs were recorded for release, and
> there
> was rough video footage of the entire Larne and HMV shows which may or may
> not
> be used, as well as youtube clips of Larne (as posted previously, very
> rough
> sound - one consistent thing throughout was the excellent PA), and about 30
> minutes of Derry here, appropriately titled 'Jandek opening up a pathway to
> another world':
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X5RKwGZu_k
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__S3wZmVetw
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuZPZnwebLE
> There is a blog account of Bangor here:
> http://lapsedcaff-flick.blogspot.com/2009/07/janky-shanks-bangor.html
> and flickr pics from the author (I think) here:
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/fizzybenilyn/sets/72157621628635609/
> and hopefully, in maybe 3 years' time or so, there will be a Jandek NI
> boxed set.
> And, after hoping to meet Ross and Paul Condon, I only realised who 'Paul'
> was
> *after* we left Sandino's...maybe next time.
> Gavin
> _______________________________________________
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> jandek at mylist.net
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