Friday 9 January 2015

J Mascis and my curly fingertips: Scala - 8 Jan 2015

My fingertips are trying to creak themselves back towards my knuckles, as instinctively I don’t want to write what I’m about to type. Last night I saw someone with zero personality, no stage presence and nothing to say to the audience between songs; no one apart from the front row could see him properly as he sat down to do his acousticy set.

And I loved every minute.

I’ve always lived by the mantra that there are only two bands that don’t need to talk to the audience and interact. One is the Rolling Stones. The other is the Stone Roses. Both are as cool as a stone. Everyone else must, you know, get involved. Whip em up into a storm. You see too many bands who look like rabbits in the headlights between songs as if it’s a massive shock that they now have to talk to the audience.  

But J Mascis doesn’t embrace any of that. Like a curmudgeonly friend who deigns to grace you with his presence on curry night, he mumbled his way through the talky bits and practically stormed off – and on again for the encore. He’s not a people-person.

I’d been warned. Earlier in the day he was on Lauren Laverne’s Six Music show and Lauren had done sterling work trying to get something out of the mono-syllabic Mascis. She did well, keeping Six Music from becoming ‘Dead Air Live’. It was embarrassing.

But all my prejudices were thrown asunder and now my fingertips are starting to relax because boy can he play guitar. My gig-buddy Steve wondered whether he overdid the fuzzbox on tracks such as Heal the Star, but I loved the distorted sound he put into it. It was loud and raw and not actually that acousticy.

J played for about 75 minutes, which would have taken much concentration given it was totally solo. Nice for the sound tech guys who didn't even have to say: "One/two"; more like "One" - it was easy to set up but complicated to perform. 

A guitar virtuoso session. After the gig, three women excitedly exclaimed that there wasn't a queue for the loo. That's because this gig was an unashamably male, stroke chin (probably with ironic beard affixed) event. 

Bloody brilliant. I'll never look down my nose at a non-chatty artist again. Promise (Fingertips; behave yourselves now)