Jesse Malin + Brothers of Brazil @ Birmingham O2 Academy 3, 19th May 2015

Jesse Malin, San Francisco, March 2013

The moment that you cross the threshold for any Jesse Malin show you can instantly feel that pulsating fervour which permeates his performances. Whether it be the mixtape that blasts from every source of amplification in the modestly sized Academy 3 room – which you just know will have been compiled by Malin himself, whilst locked in the “silver machine”, en route to another show, in another city – or whether it be the cherry picked support act.

Tonight’s show is infused with both the aforementioned components. Upon entering the venue, all attention is immediately drawn to the stage and the overwhelming concoction of bossa nova and punk rock, affectionately described as ’punkanova’ by the creators of this unusual mixture of styles. Say hello to the Brothers of Brazil.

No gimmicks here, they a brothers, and they are indeed from Brazil. These purveyors of punkanova are certainly dedicated to showing Birmingham what they have to offer, and it is evident which of the brothers – Supla and João Suplicy- are bringing the punk element to proceedings. Supla is decked out in an oversized green leather jacket and tartan trousers, all of which are covered in varying degrees of studs and spikes. This is topped off with a shock of blonde hair that explodes from Supla’s forehead. João, is dressed slightly less unreservedly, and is responsible for the more classical elements.

Both musicians are extremely talented, and their personas are larger than life and hugely likeable. Supla will shift from stage right, up alongside his brother, to behind the drums, whilst João remains a constant, nestled within the enfolds of his guitar licks. Songs like ‘Never Let You Go’; ‘On My Way’ and ‘Melodies From Hell’ are anthemic and though, the audience, in all likely hood are hearing them for the first time, they are quick to join in and sing the choruses back at the brothers. Testament to the brothers ability to transform a room. By the culmination of their set, the Academy 3 is in a joyous mood, and ready to receive the mercurial Malin.

It has been less than a year since the Midlands were treated to a visit from Jesse Malin, but this is the first time in some years that he is in the vicinity with a new record to promote. It has been well documented by Malin himself, that his latest offering ‘New York Before The War’ has been a long time coming, having battled its way to release after weeks of tweaking in a rural studio, which led to a complete overhaul of the songs that had been recorded up until that point of affirmation.

The band arrive on stage a little ahead of the scheduled 9:30 slot, which could have been interpreted as a ‘lets just get this over with’; or simply an overbearing desire to get things going. It is my belief that the latter would best describe the intentions of Malin and his band, as they leap into the first single taken from the new album. ‘Addicted’ is followed by ‘Wendy’ taken from Malin’s debut solo album ‘The Fine Art of Self Destruction’ and certainly helps maintain the full throttle opening.

One of the more satisfying aspects of a Malin show of late, is the splendid musicianship that accompanies him on his travels. The benefit of having such a strong group around him was first prevalent on the St Mark’s Social tour. Those shows were a huge leap from the previous tours. Malin himself, has always been an outstanding showman, it was just that prior to that tour, there always seemed to be a gulf between where Malin wanted to take the band, and there ability to join him on that level.

Malin and the New York music scene are inextricably woven together. This is no more apparent than during Malin’s dedication to his friend and longtime supporter, the epic Joey Ramone. On what would have been his 64th birthday, the band perform a splendid version of ‘Do You Remember Rock ’n’ Roll Radio?’ and Malin’s own ‘Bar Life’. The latter affords Malin the opportunity to pursue one of the trademark aspects of any Malin show. Midway through Bar Life, Malin makes his way into the centre of the audience, where he requests the they join him in a sit-down whilst the band maintain a subtle accompaniment as Malin dips into his ever burgeoning cauldron of rock ’n’ roll anecdotes. On this occasion, the crowd are permitted an insight into the time that U2 requested that Joey join them at the Saturday Night Live studios whilst they were performing songs from the ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ album. Malin delights in recalling how Joey, Bono and himself, navigated the Manhattan streets at some ungodly hour, whilst searching out the secret post show party. The point of this story, is in no way some egotistical revelry, instead, it serves to offer an insight to the complexity of Joey’s personality – the insecure and childlike nature, mixed with a defiant and forthright resoluteness.

Unsurprisingly, the setlist for tonight’s show will lean heavily upon ‘New York Before The War’: ‘Oh Sheena’, ‘Turn Up The Mains’ and ‘Boots of Immigration’ already sound like engrained classics, and are warmly received by the audience. The band end the night with a cover of Lou Reed’s ‘Sally Can’t Dance’ and leave me having experienced the gamut of emotions that accompany any Jesse Malin show.

Review: Chris Curtis

Photographs courtesy of: One Little Indian

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