Review: Jesse Malin & The St. Marks Social - King Tuts, Glasgow

DESPITE a long recording and touring career, New York troubadour Jesse Malin has never quite lived up to the plentiful promise he showed with his Ryan Adams-produced debut album, The Fine Art of Self Destruction, back in 2002. So it’s a treat for his fans, if not of obvious use to the forward motion of his career, that his current tour consists of an almost-anniversary performance of that debut in full.

Dressed in grey three-piece suit, black shirt and red tie, Malin looked like an extra from a Seventies-vintage Scorsese film, his black hair scruffily feather-cut and his hyperactive drawl eternally self-deprecating. Unlike his old friend Adams, a show by Malin is almost worth the admission for his between-song asides alone.

Wendy, he told us, was about an ex-girlfriend whom he was still in love with, although he had to change the name because he was dating someone else at the time.

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His mistaken arrest in Illinois led to his being hero-worshipped by the police when they discovered he’d been less than a mile from Ground Zero on 9/11, and his prelude to Brooklyn bemoaned the fact the area now has “an American Apparel and a Starbucks on every corner”.

There’s undoubtedly a self-mythologising element to Malin’s shtick, but it’s true that The Fine Art of Self Destruction is a classic album which deserves a place in history alongside Adams’ own breakthrough, Gold.

That this show did it justice, right up to Malin’s insistence that everyone “get down like James Brown” during the concert’s emotive centrepiece, Solitaire, was enough to make it great.

RATING: ****