Steven Malkmus and The Jicks - Gorilla, Manchester
For someone who started his music career a full quarter of a century ago, Stephen Malkmus' veteran status is a given, but you wouldn't necessarily know it from the way he throws his lanky body about the stage with all the energy associated with someone half his age. His current back-up crew The Jicks are equally animated; most playful is guitarist Mike Clark, who plays with the backdrop of ‘high voltage’ boxes, jumps around on the amps and licks his keyboard.
The volume is up and the guitars are chugging out the Jicks' scuzzy noise. With bassist Joanna Bolme taking centre stage, Malkmus stands way to the left. New drummer Jake Morris takes the place of Janet Weiss, recently in town with her long-term Quasi project. The heavy sound is relentless as the (verging-on-oversold) Gorilla nods along. Unfortunately, the mix is poor and Malkmus’s voice is, for about three quarters of the night, drowned out by his own music. The issue is eventually remedied just before ‘Jo Jo’s Jacket’, but Malkmus apologises for not fixing the issue at the beginning.
Although they hit Manchester to promote the newly released Wig Out At Jagbags, the album has barely been out a week so it's stuff from 2011's Mirror Traffic that's the popular choice this evening. A polite Malkmus attempts to respond to all queries and demands thrown at him throughout the night. This leads to a few mini-conversations with random crowd members and even an impromptu Morrissey skit after he mentions that ‘Tigers’ was the closest he ever got to sounding like The Smiths.
His willingness to take requests means that what was pencilled in as a one-song encore, very quickly grows to become four songs - including the ever popular ‘Senator’ and a ‘cover’ of Pavement’s ‘Harness your Hopes’. Finishing with a brilliant take of Led Zepellin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks leave the stage a final time for their ‘hipster hotel in the sky’.