Live: Steven Malkmus & The Jicks @ The Forum.

 (Simon Jay Price)

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

Stephen Malkmus casually saunters on stage at The Forum with his three piece band. Despite the apparently low key entrance, the stage set up has been very specifically and slightly oddly laid out. Stephen is placed way off to the left, his keyboard/guitarist is almost falling off the front edge of the stage to the right, his bassist stands centre stage but far back and his drummer languishes on a strange diagonal angle. Is this a test? I don’t know, but it reflects what will be an enjoyably quirky vibe to the whole evening. Imelda Michalczyk went along to experience and photograph.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

Malkmus is touring his sixth album with The Jicks, entitled Wig Out At Jagbags and the set comprises a great deal of the new material, including Independence Street, J Smoov, Houston Hades and Cinnamon Lesbian.

The band move through swirling, melodic songs that often change tempo several times within their short life-span. Malkmus jumps, dances and shakes, seemingly as mesmerized by the music as the appreciative crowd. There’s a youthfulness to the sound and the delivery that belies his more than twenty years of recording and touring.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

Older Jicks songs such as Baby C’mon, Cold Son and Forever 28 break up the focus on the new album. The frontman’s former band, Pavement, is very under-represented – whilst hotly anticipated by the crowd, the old songs are few on the ground. A warm reaction to Pavement’s Harness Your Hopes indicates that there was appetite for more retrospection, but the focus was clearly forward, not backward for this key figure of the US indie rock scene.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

The encore ends with the announcement of a brand new song – unfortunately, after a long pause, it seemed Malkmus could not re-tune his guitar to his satisfaction for this mystery number, so it was scrapped and early single Jenny & The Ess-Dog closed the show instead.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

The band took a collective bow and left the stage. There’s definitely no spectacle or pageantry to this group’s live performance and yet it is strangely exciting. Underplayed but intriguing. I’m left wanting to go and fill in the gaps in my knowledge of Malkmus’s output. And that is, surely, one of the best testaments a band can leave their audience with.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum in London on 16 January 2014 (Imelda Michalczyk)

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at The Forum, London on 16 January 2014. Review by Imelda Michalczyk. Imelda has her own website here: www.rebeldelica.com

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