A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Damien Jurado & John Vanderslice, The Borderline, 03/11/09

I was at The Borderline last night for a double bill of American-acoustic-indie-folk-guitar-power-pop.

After leaving work I headed down to the South Bank to enjoy a couple of hours in the Royal Festival Hall Members’ Bar. Had a very enjoyable first listen to Max Richter’s re-released ‘Memoryhouse’ album. Atmospheric, strident post-classical soundtrack music at its very best.

I pulled myself away from the beautiful views of the RFH balcony (photos to follow another time) and headed over Golden Jubilee Bridge, past St. Martins-In-The-Fields and up the Charing Cross Road before going into the Borderline with JP.

First up was John Vanderslice. I had seen him headline this venue last year. Surprisingly he only played one song from current album ‘Romanian Names’ (‘Too Much Time’), preferring to concentrate on older material. Not often you can say that. His set included ‘Trance Manual’ and ‘Angela’, the beautiful meditation on how an escaped pet can result in the questioning and reassessment of a human relationship (and incidentally, one of my top 100 tracks of all time, as recently compiled on my iPod playlist – separate blog post to follow on this). To end, JV left his position on stage and entered the crowd, getting a member of the audience to hold a small hand-held torch and playing 2 songs from the Borderline floor, the first being a rather lovely version of ‘Keep The Dream Alive’. As JP astutely observed, “very Death Cab”. Reminded me of a gig by Godspeed You Black Emperor at the Scala in 2001 (?) where during an already monumentally brilliant show, the drummer left the stage and walked through the crowd playing his drum, almost causing your correspondent to experience something close to an epiphany. Tonight maybe wasn’t quite the same in terms of the intensity of experience but it is always something I enjoy and should be encouraged in my humble opinion. Just remembered that Kurt Wagner started his gig last year at The Borderline by doing likewise.

Soon up after was Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado who played a hushed, stripped down acoustic set full of trademark intimate, low key songs. The first part of his set consisted of songs from his yet to be released new album, followed by some old favourites. ‘Tether’, ‘Abilene’, ‘The Killer’. All brilliant. He seemed genuinely pleased and surprised to have a full Borderline to play for. A few self-deprecating anecdotes were interspersed between songs, including some funny observations on driving in London.

One of those great evenings that reinforce my love for The Borderline, live music and the wonderful city of London.

“This country will know us by name….”

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