Saturday, 30 January 2010

611 SEBADOH, SJ Esau, Bristol Louisiana, Thursday 16 October 2003

Went along to this one anticipating an intriguing night of melancholy from one of US Alt-rock's stalwarts, old misery-trousers himself Lou Barlow. The "Acoustic Show" billing for this gig at least meant we were spared some of band-mate Jason Lowenstein's more "rawk" excesses! So we hit the venue at 8.30, the place already full in anticipation of this sell-out show. Got a stage-left spot for SJ Esau, a painfully young John Linnell (They Might Be Giants) lookalike with simple, stupid songs and a weird effects pedal. A lot of his stuff should've been left in his bedroom dustbin, however.

Lou Barlow took the stage at 9.20 and proceeded to sit there on his own for 10 minutes (!) before being joined by his faithful lieutenant Jason, who allegedly, "thought he (Lou) was still in the bathroom!" Thereafter, their set was very entertaining; musically quiet, sombre and generally melancholy as expected, with Lou repeatedly requesting to turn his guitar down, but in between the avalanche of songs both Lou and Jason revealed not a little amount of humour with their banter. "I love damp and cool, so put me on a plane to England, baby," was one of Lou's classic lines, as was the way they both dealt with a dickhead down the front who had a wife fixation (?!). The audience, sensing the vibe, joined in ("This may be our last UK date for awhile," said Lou, prompting a wag to reply, "well, you're not getting any younger!") and I got in on the act too, advising a confused Jason that Lou's "in his cups" line was a Shakespearian reference to being pissed!

Musically,the introspective "On Fire" and the inevitable heartbreak of "Soul And Fire" were highlights, as was a bizarre number which climaxed with both singers shouting, "the oven is my friend!" Attempts afterwards to get Jason to give me the set-list were unsuccessful ("it's the only one we have, and we're off to Holland now, otherwise, totally"), but this didn't detract (much) from a surprisingly funny and entertaining hour and a half!

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