“And they say the showmanship in rock and roll is dead” said my friend and gig buddy Paul as we watched Stephen Malkmus solo on his guitar with it wrapped around the back of his head.
The ex Pavement frontman was back in Glasgow to promote his excellent latest album Sparkle Hard in the SWG Tv Studio in front of a mixture of old and older fans with the expected, unfortunate and unwelcome Pavement-reveller down the front and centre. We get it pal, he was in Pavement.
Anyway, kicking off the set with Tigers from 2011’s Mirror Traffic, he then launches into (personal favourite) Shiggy from the new album and the ensuing solo-ing behind the head starts. That’s one of the great things with Stephen Malkmus (and the Jicks too for that matter). They don’t take themselves too seriously. Not every note has to be in key, not every lyric has to be perfectly replicated from the record and it doesnt matter. It helps relax and engage the crowd into joining their laissez faire performance. On this album particularly, it feels like they are a band with something to say and not just going through the motions. Bike Lane and Middle America stand up with anything he’s done post Pavement and even being the last guitarist in the world to still use a wah wah pedal doesnt detract from some great guitar playing as we are taken through some older Baltimore -a particular high moment- and newer SM & TJ songs. Rattler, for anyone of a similar age to me, won’t hear the song correctly as those electronic worbly vocals summon Cher in a denim jacket singing Believe. Yep, Cher nod mid Stephen Malkmus review.
Anyway….. To the encore!!! Having had a look online at his previous encores on this tour, I had noticed he had been playing Pavement songs and the crowd (and the drunken shouter for Pavement all night who I couldnt help but think of at this point) were treated to Starlings of the Slipstream and Stereo from Brighten The Corners. It was a brilliant way to bring the show to a close and from the first timers to the newcomers of Stephen Malkmus, everyone left happy.