… Leeds Brudenell Social Club, that is, the venue of last night’s sets from Damien Jurado and Megafaun.
“Unsocial, DsD?” I hear you ask. Well, yes, in a couple of ways actually.
First of all, I was on me own. No crocodile tears required folks, this gig was never gonna be gordonimmel or DaddyPig‘s bag, though with hindsight, AliM may well have enjoyed it: sorry, Ali.
Secondly, I was of course driving myself to and from the gig, so sobriety was the order of the day. But as I was feeling a beer thirst (it’d been v.hot’n'sticky most of the day, despite the bursts of torrential rain), I had a pint of lager shandy. Gawd only knows why, but it gave me massive, constant expulsions of gas all evening. If I knew who the poor sods behind me were before they made a rapid exit at the end, I’d've been obliged to apologise!
My third gripe is a bit mean of me: I had every intention of getting a T-shirt this evening, but Damien doesn’t do ‘em, and Megafaun only had XS to M left: not a lot of good for the, um, ever-more-generously-proportioned DsD!
Next was the non-appearance of the promised support band. 7pm arrival doors, 8.35 still playing Yahtzee on my phone whilst hiding my new-found gas-propelled levitation skills. OK, the gig was dirt cheap (only a tenner), but if there ain’t gonna be a support band, either don’t put it on the tickets, or at least tell us on arrival.
So anyway, at 8.45, Megafaun climb unannounced and unassuming onto the Brud stage, and for the next 3/4 of an hour give us a happy-go-lucky, slightly shambolic selection of their songs, concentrating very much more on the Grateful Dead / Beach Boys hybrid end of their sound, rather than their “headily absorbing, occasionally unsettling, full-bore concrète music, harsh noise salvos, and wild free-jazz interventions * “ thankfully for me. DsD-fave Get Right (from last year’s eponymous album) was slightly underwhelming – I can lose myself in the 8m30s studio version – but I put that down to it being played early, before we’d all got into a groove. However, they more than made up for that with an extended runthrough of Kaufman’s Ballad, which rocked out much more than the folky album version. They ended the set with Real Slow, which they turned into a lovely noodling jam, and meant they’d left the stage before I realised they hadn’t played Hope You Know, probably their best-known song, and one which is an early contender for the DsD 2012 Festive ‘Spill selections.
I was going to insert a show video of Alberta (the blues number made famous twice by Bob Dylan) here, but my iPhone and YouTube seem to have had a fallout, and aren’t now speaking to each other.
* from Pitchfork reviews … oh, and whilst I’m at it, here’s another quote on the subject of “unsocial” – from the BrightestYoungThings website Megafaun gig review of a show in Washington DC – which after tonight I heartily agree with:
A brief note to the latter half of the audience at the Megafaun show this past Thursday night at the Black Cat’s Backstage: do kindly shut the fuck up next time around. You can go to any random bar on a Thursday night in DC and have a loud, inane conversation while music plays. Why buy a ticket just to ruin a great show for people?
Despite my post title and all the moaning I’ve done so far, I have to say that Megafaun themselves were as social and courteous as it is possible to be. I’ll take this opportunity to thank multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook, for taking the time to write down some links for live sessions I can find on t’interweb, after I’d gushed about that live version of Kaufman’s Ballad. I however, was a little unsocial, or at least ungracious, to Phil in return, as Damien Jurado came on stage as we were talking, and I kinda hurried him up and snuck back to my seat.
Damien Jurado is a very intense performer. With the exception of the idiot couple sat on the floor next to me giggling about Canada, pretty much everyone in the room was absolutely rapt. I swear the old line about hearing a pin drop whist Damien sang is true. But again, you could easily describe his stage prescence as unsocial; the amateur psychologist in me would even have guessed at Asperger’s / borderline autistic had I not been pre-warned (by Shoey amongst others) about his lack of audience interaction. But the performances – WOW! You didn’t need to see his eyes behind those dark glasses to feel the blackness and pain; the lyrics, and that voice brought it right to your spine. Abilene and The Ghost Of David in particular were given extra chills by the power of the live performance from the man sat twenty feet in front of me. OK, so I didn’t get to hear either of my two all-time Jurado fave songs (Big Decision and Bad Dreams, if you’re interested), but we did get an ace rendition of Rachel & Cali, amongst several highlights.
When Damien did finally speak to us, it was to tell us that Megafaun would be joining him to play some songs at the end of the set. “At last”, I thought, as I’d been sold this gig on the basis it would be a three-set show, the two artistes on their own, plus one where Megafaun would back Jurado on a selection of his louder songs. Sadly however, we only got two, and no encore. Not very social of you, Mr. J. But here’s one of the two: Nothing Is The News, the opening song from DJ’s new album Maraqopa
EDIT – HMMM, IT WOULD SEEM GONEFOREIGN IS RIGHT: I DON’T SEEM TO BE ABLE TO INSERT ANY PICS OR YOUTUBE VIDS. NOT GOING TO TRY TO SORT THAT NOW (MY ALARM GOES OFF FOR WORK IN UNDER 90 MINS – I THINK THAT’S A NEW RECORD, SHOEY!!)
His final twist of the knife – though I’m being churlish now – was that he used his longest spoken word speech of the night to tell us he won’t be back “probably for a few years”. Gee thanks, Damien, rub it in why dontcha? US tour, huh? Check. Other commitments, too, is it? Check. Oh. Wait. What was that? “And I’ve got a baby on the way, so I’m gonna stay home and be a dad.” Aw, damn! Now I feel guilty.
Good luck on that adventure, sir, and oh yeah, parenthood, and committing to it that fully: that DEFINITELY makes you seem unsocial to the rest of us, but you know what? Go for it, with my best wishes, and see you round . . . . maybe.