Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks are really good live right now

On Monday 27th January Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks stopped off in Berlin on their winter European tour.  They were supporting their brand new album ‘Wig Out At Jagbags‘ and are over in Germany after a number of shows in the UK and France.  I wasn’t planning on going – Steve was far from at his best last time I saw the band play in London and I wasn’t keen on the new(ish) drummer.  I told myself I’d give it a couple of years before seeing the band live again but after hearing the new album I quickly changed my mind (I promised I’d give you an opinion on the new album ‘Wig Out At Jagbags‘, here it is: it’s very good).  I’m glad I made this decision as my 6th time seeing Steve turned out to be by far the best…

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Malkmus has always been an excellent performer.  I love his interaction with the crowd, casual attitude towards singing and ironic-guitar-hero stage presence .  He puts everyone at ease and is probably the only celebrated guitarist whose bum notes and fuck-ups aren’t considered an issue.  His band are equally laid-back and always provide a solid back bone for Malkmus’ guitar to flop down upon.

The band began with intent at Berlin’s Postbahnhof – ‘(Do Not Feed The) Oyster‘s huge way-out-there guitar rampage just after the first chorus kicked things off in typically quirky Malkmus fashion.  Guitars are loud and the band proceed to charge through most of the new album.  I love it when bands with as much material as The Jicks choose to focus much of the set on their new album.  Music is about moving forward.  Confidence in new material is cool.  Can we all agree about this?  The sound at Postbahnhof is fantastic for the band – drums thunder and guitars sits nicely in the mix.  Steve’s Fender Strat and Guild SG guitars shine bright and tonight he shreds.  Much like when the band appeared on the Jimmy Fallon show, ‘Stick Figures In Love‘ from the album ‘Mirror Traffic’ is a standout, as are new songs ‘Houston Hades‘ and ‘Shibboleth‘.

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This is a beautiful guitar set-up

Late in the set Malkmus gives a shout-out to his ‘homies from Wilmersdorf, the little people in Mitte and 2 people in Kreuzberg’, a nod to his time living in Berlin between 2011 and 2013.  I witnessed a couple of typical Pavement fans (trucker caps and shirts) pointing their fingers at the singer as he played a guitar solo.  That was quite funny – it reminded me of 2 overly keen dads trying to help their kid(s) recite a particularly important piano piece.  Things end with a jammy (as if the original wasn’t!) rendition of ‘Real Emotional Trash‘ from the album of the same name and the Pavement song (Malkmus’ old band) ‘Harness Your Hopes‘.  What made this gig so good was the pace of the set and excellent sound.  I think those in attendance would agree.  Rad stuff.

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