Top Festive Cheer

Jesse Malin has to be one of the most productive artists out there; he seems to be constantly on tour somewhere and has released a live album and covers album this year alone. However his live appearances never lost their excitement and having seen the singer a couple of times in the run up to the festive season, it’s easy to get involved in his vision of a festive New York Christmas. Jesse seems in fine spirit, saying how much he loves Glasgow and the audience bouncing the appreciative vibe back with song requests and general adulation. He manages to invite one particularly shy looking girl on stage for a hug because she “looked sad”, however she swiftly scuttles off, but it’s just one example of the fact that Malin is part of a rare breed of singers who love to connect with their audience.

The set is quite eclectic, although missing the obvious choice, “Xmas” which was promised on the onstage setlist. Low-key downbeat, delicate piano number, ‘Block Island’ makes a very rare outing, which is a pretty special moment, with ‘Basement Home’ also getting a look in. There’s a personal and moving tribute to Joe Strummer, who used to drink in Malin’s bar, in the form of ‘Death or Glory’, which manages to be both rousing and touching. New song, ‘The Archer’ is catchy and great to hear; it was written by Jesse and keyboardist Christine Smith for a JD Salinger biopic, which definitely sounds like one to watch out for. Having seen Jesse with a full band a year or so ago, it’s nice to see him alone with Christine onstage, making the show a little more personal and giving all the tunes a slightly different, sometimes more mellow, and sometimes just more affecting, twist. It also makes it easier to focus on his characteristic rambling anecdotes about changes in New York, moving to LA and back, and the state of the world in general; these are the things that make Malin’s shows so enjoyable and personal. If you’re going to spend an evening standing with strangers then it’s nice that the one person who’s enticed you there begins to feel like an old friend as you laugh at their jokes and sing-a-long to their lines. And there’s plenty of singing along tonight as Jesse revels in the fact that the crowd seem to know pretty much every word.