Live Review: Jesse Malin @ The Hamilton Live — 6/11/22


Jesse Malin (Photo courtesy Partisan Arts PR)

Punk was a reaction to the increasingly sophisticated nature of rock music, especially the rise of progressive rock in the early ’70s. Punk stripped rock music backed down to its bare essentials, to a fast, hard-charging, guitar-based attack.

It’s not surprising then, that Jesse Malin, who grew up in the NYC hardcore band Heart Attack and later fronted D Generation, later turned to roots rock, becoming widely respected figure and working with luminaries like Lucinda Williams and Bruce Springsteen. Even though Jesse is in his early 50s, he’s still full of fire, and he put a ton of energy into his performance at The Hamilton Live recently, even climbing on tables and chairs to work up the crowd.

With a three-guitar attack, and one of those guitars belonging to well-known multi-instrumentalist David Immergluck (Camper Van Beethoven, Counting Crows), the band got off to a strong start with “Sinner,” a cut from the first half of Malin’s latest release, the two-volume Sad and Beautiful World, which came out last year. At the beginning of the set on June 11, Jesse looked very dapper, dressed in a suit, which he would gradually shed leave several layers of throughout the evening. The next couple of songs, “The Way We Used To Roll” and “Backstabbers,” came from the second volume of the release.

Watch the official music video for “The Way We Used To Roll” by Jesse Malin on YouTube:

Later in the set at The Hamilton, Jesse also returned to the album with “Dance With The System” and “State of the Art.”

Jesse’s previous LP, Sunset Kids, released in 2019, was produced by Lucinda Williams and her husband, Tom Overby. Jesse recalled how nervous he was sitting down with Lucinda to go over the lyrics to “Room 13.” It originally had 10 verses. Lucinda’s helped him edit it down to three. She changed a lyric mentioning all the stores being closed on Sunday to saying all the liquor stores were closed. “Room 13,” he explained, is “about understanding and figuring out love.”

A highlight of Jesse’s career was playing “Queen of the Underworld” live on Jay Leno. When Leno came over to shake his hand, Jesse made a series of elaborate hand signals intended for a group of fans gathered a nearby bar, which he now owns.

Another high point was getting to perform with Shane McGowan of the Pogues. Jesse and his band were in London, and someone told him Shane was there. Sure enough, there was Shane, “drinking bourbon out of a Pringles can.” A conversation ensued, and while Jesse attempted to recount if for us, it’s not clear if he himself ever really knew what Shane was saying, as Shane’s dialogue was not especially comprehensible in the telling of the tale. Things did work out, and Shane got up and sang with the band. All this was prelude to a cover of the Pogues’ “If I Should Fall From Grace With God,” which was dedicated to the people of the Ukraine.

Watch Jesse Malin sing “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” with Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello in an official music video on YouTube:

Jesse got to live his dream of playing Madison Square Garden when D Generation opened for KISS. His parents were extremely excited because they had better seats than Florida Man. What made this especially sweet was getting to do it with his best friend, Howie Pyro, who recently passed away. Jesse was on tour in Europe with Brian Fallon when he got the call that Howie wasn’t going to make it more than a few days, and he decided it would be best to finish up the tour. Howie, he said, supposedly got his nickname from blowing up a garage, and he reinvented himself several times, mostly recently as a DJ online.

Jesse’s worked with a lot of big names, none bigger than Bruce Springsteen, who joined him on the recording of “Broken Radio.” “Death Star,” was written with Don Dilego, who opened the show, and is “about the current age of digital insanity.” One lucky lady got her wish, which she was not shy about voicing, when Jesse played “Black Haired Girl.” Other songs included “She Don’t Love Me Now,” “Shining,” “Hotel Columbia,” and Wendy, which he said, “goes out to all you wintertime beach dwellers.” The set proper ended with “Meet Me At The End of The World,” and the band return for an encore of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and The Clash’s “Rudy Can’t Fail.”

Jesse and his band rocked loud and hard, and the songs were great. A really fun show.

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