Jesse Malin / Jeff Klein – Borderline, London

It’s really exciting when the Yanks send over their cool young talent to be discovered first by the UK music press, then the UK public, and then re-exported back to them. Following that, of course, we Brits go over the top in our enthusiasm, the floodgates open and quality control collapses. It’s already happened in the world of handsome and noisy NYC garage bands, next it’ll be the post Ryan Adams / Pete Yorn area of equally handsome but less noisy country-rock singer-songwriters. Meanwhile, let’s just be happy that dear old Jesse Malin is the real rock and roll deal and revel in this classic, media-swamped sweatbath of a showcase.
First up, all the way from Austin, Texas (the place where I wish to wake up after I die) is Jeff Klein. Jeff’s motto is: “No matter how bad things are, everything could probably be worse” – and that’s just how his publicity sheet tries to attract us! With a truly terrifying beard, he looks and sounds like he wishes he was in … Trail Of Dead. Jeff can make a lyric like “Everything’s gonna be all right” sound like a threat. His best song was about being caught mid-wank by his dad, but still we liked him.
And so, as the cellar threatened to turn into a home-made volcano and explode upwards through the pavement, Jesse Malin and his band lived up to the hyperbole. Are they all they should be? Yes sir! Tears started flowing from the off, as the band (dressed, as all alt-punk bands should be, in head-to-toe black) took the stage to the strains of the Clash’s “Bank Robber”.
There’s something reassuringly wholesome about what Jesse does. His presence even brings to mind Ray Davies, while the ecstatically-greeted “Wendy” is a full-scale pop classic. And what a charmer, as he winks to the adoring girls in the front row and tells us tales of Barbra Streisand’s furniture. Call it alt-whatever (it’s youthful, punked-up Neil Young, actually), all the music is crisp, timeless rock and roll with its best, least affected face on. “Death Or Glory” was dedicated to Jesse’s friend Joe Strummer, plus a few choice (sadly probably unheeded) words of advice to G.W. Bush. The almost unbearably poignant “Brooklyn” rapidly turned into a full-scale crowd singalong, and the evening ended with some serious moshing to Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding?”. In the Borderline! And I joined in! Well, it would have been rude not to.
Go, Jesse! You truly are a King of the Underworld.
(from LOGO magazine) 

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