Jay Reatard: Live Last Night
By Patrick Foster
Rumor has it that Jay Reatard's forthcoming Matador debut album ("Watch Me Fall," due August 18) is a pure pop masterwork. At the Black Cat Backstage last night, though, any pop that was in the room was obliterated by buzzsaw guitar and a punk rhythm section that was as subtle as a steamroller. Which means for now, any fears that Mr. Reatard has turned into Donny Osmond can be put aside.
(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)
In fact, the 40-minute set wasn't radically different from the shows he's been playing over the past year, except for a thrilling encore, in which opening act TV Smith joined the Reatard trio to bash through a few punk chestnuts written by his former band, The Adverts.
Prior to that it was pure garage punk frenzy: a shouted song title, four drumbeats for an intro and off in a cloud of snarling guitar and bass. Reatard's vocals were buried in the blitzkrieg, but the razor sharp hooks he embeds in his best songs -- a mix of punk muscle and power pop melody that has fans salivating for his new disc -- shone through on occasion. "Oh It's Such A Shame," with its stutter-chorus, and the swooning "See Saw" were the best examples, but a high-throttle version of "I'm Watching You" was great, too.
The rest was punky roar, which stirred up a mosh-pit (and presumably contributed to the fist fight that broke out in its midst) and satisfied the die-hards but cast Jay in a pre-album release holding pattern.
But there were no worries over new material when he tore into the Adverts' "Gary Gilmore's Eyes," the rail-thin Smith churning like he was back on the stage of London's Roxy. That collision of old and new punk was easily the night's high point.
By David Malitz |
July 6, 2009; 1:26 PM ET
Live Last Night
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