Found under a pool table some time in the nineteen eighties, no one knows where this confused genius really comes from- some say space, some say a suburb in Salford...all they really know is that thei...[more]
The Brudenell Social Club, Thursday 2 August 2012
The gig room at the Brudenell Social Club is busier then I've seen it in ages, with good reason too. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks have, without much fuss or fanfare, become one of the finest live bands around and garnered quite a following. Malkmus certainly hasn't rested on his laurels and with last year's album, Mirror Traffic, The Jicks released their fifth long-player (matching Pavement's output). There's genuine excitement in the room; after all, most of us have been listening to Malkmus (in one form or another) since we were teenagers.
Before The Jicks take to the stage we get a set from Manchester's Milk Maid. Their guitarist's wearing a Ty Segal t-shirt and there are certainly elements of classic garage rock in what they do; definitely a good thing. They play with plenty of energy and the guitars are nicely turned up to 11, but it still feels a little underwhelming at times. My friend whispers that they sound like a "pub-rock Built to Spill" and unfortunately there are distinctly pub-rock aspects to their sound. It's not bad at all but when you're supporting a band as wonderfully eccentric as The Jicks it all feels a little pedestrian in comparison.
Malkmus is greeted like a local hero returning to his old stomping ground (NB: Malkmus is definitely not from Leeds, pop fans!), looking perfectly at home with the equally iconic Brudenell sign behind him. The band opens with 'Tigers' from Mirror Traffic and it sounds perfect. It's a song which always seems to finish too quickly but thankfully, there are plenty more to come. Some choice cuts from the wonderful Pig Lib album like 'Dark Wave' and 'Animal Midnight' mix in with highlights from across their career; The Jicks make pop-perfection look and sound effortless.
At one point, Malkmus jokes that he's borrowed one of his guitars (he uses quite a few tonight) from Eric Clapton but Malkmus' considerable guitar skills can't be ignored. They play the enduringly playful 'Jenny & the Ess Dog' from Stephen Malkmus and just when things can't get any better they play Pavement's 'Speak, See, Remember' (from Terror Twilight). Without wishing to over-shadow The Jicks' tracks, it's great to hear this personal favourite get a rare live outing and it seems like a much better choice than playing one of Pavement's better known numbers ('Cut Your Hair', 'Range Life' etc).
The bassist asks everyone to put their camera phones away and actually "experience something"; the audience cheers and happily obliges. The Brudenell crowd is in the palm of their collective indie-rock hands. I see Ross Jarman of the Cribs (sometimes The Jicks' touring buddies) by the merch stall and it only goes to further emphasise how much people have taken this band to heart. An impeccable set from genuine indie-rock royalty; the crowd leaves grinning and satisfied. Nice one, Jicks!