Saturday, November 9, 2013

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks live "Harness Your Hopes", "Stairway to Heaven", "Beginning to See The Light", at the Crystal Ballroom, Portland, Oregon, Friday, November 8, 2013, Homecoming Show Encore

Stephen Malkmus became the latest rocker to honor the late Lou Reed by celebrating one of his songs in concert, in this case the Velvet Underground classic "Beginning to See The Light", which Malkmus wrapped seamlessly into an encore suite which also included Pavement's "Harness Your Hopes" and "Stairway to Heaven" (featuring a combination of the actual lyrics and his own whimsical improvisational take, much like his "cover" of Neil Young's Mr. Soul the last time Malkmus played the Crystal... before his Berlin adventure).

Last night's concert was a homecoming triumph for one of Portland's favorite adopted indie sons.


Within a couple of weeks my moving to Portland in 2011, I saw Stephen Malkmus do a solo show, as well as Corin Tucker (with a little help from Sam Coomes) open up for M. Ward. I got it in my mind that I would be running into these people on a regular basis, at shows, but probably also at Whole Foods, Mount Tabor, First Thursday art shows, and the Nickel Arcade. So I was sorely disappointed to learn that Malkmus would be moving to Berlin, posthaste.

Great artists living in a city make that city greater.

I saw Pavement in San Francisco at the first Tibet Freedom Concert in 1996, and, although I dug his contributions to the soundtrack of the 2007 Dylan movie I'm Not There, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to Malkmus until seeing him play with The Jicks a few years back under the redwoods at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur. I was blown away by his guitar work that night, and have followed his music closely ever since.

I enjoyed the Pavement reunion shows (caught them at Coachella and in Brooklyn on the waterfront),  and listened to the Jicks release Mirror Traffic non-stop when it came out in 2011.

Many of us were saddened to learn he would be gone for a bit when he went to Berlin, but now we hope we will be seeing a lot more of him here in Portland in the months and years to come.

As usual, there was some excellent guitar work going on, some noodling and cool improv, especially interesting was the interplay between the two guitarists. Malkmus played some old favorites and several choice cuts from Mirror Traffic, which may not have gotten the exposure (and timely tour support) it deserved due to being long delayed to accommodate the Pavement reunion gigs.

But, besides the delightful covers (does the Pavement song count as a cover?) the crowd was perhaps most fascinated by the new songs from the forthcoming (January 2014 allegedly) album Wig Out At Jagbags.

Several of the new songs, like Cinnamon and Lesbians, the second song of the evening, were great and assure that the new album will be wonderful.

Wonder why they didn't do Surreal Teenagers from the forthcoming album? They did it last time they played the Crystal....

P.S. I see that Stereogum embedded several of these videos in an article on their site. Glad they enjoyed them, but it would have been nice to get a shout-out from them at least...

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