Gig review: Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks (Oran Mor)

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks
Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks

The first thing that strikes you upon seeing indie godfather Stephen Malkmus take to the Oran Mor stage is that he’s smiling.

He’s in town to promote the sixth album he’s recorded with his band The Jicks - the infectious (if cumbersomely named) ‘Wig Out At Jagbags’.

It’s one more album than he managed with his ‘other’ band’ Pavement - the group deified by a large percentage of the 35-40-year-old demographic packed into the sold-out gig.

Playing with Pavement - particularly during their short-lived moneyspinning 2010 reunion - Malkmus often looked sullen, detached, or even bored; allowing his bandmates to pick up the slack in the showmanship stakes.

What a difference a band makes. He’s still introverted - and refuses to take centre stage - but there’s no shortage of interaction with his bandmates or the audience.

It helps that his new album ranks with his very best, offering up numerous highlights such as ‘Chartjunk’, ‘Independence Street’ and ‘Lariat’.

There are also frequent trips into the band’s recent back catalogue, although some songs have clearly been rehearsed more than others.

A glimpse at bassist Joanna Bolme’s occasionally concerned face shows how close it comes to falling apart at points, but then the grins resurface as they negotiate their way to the end of tracks as intricate as the excellent ‘Stick Figures in Love’.

It’s all backed by effusive drummer Jake Morris, with guitarist Mike Clark throwing shapes worthy of Kiss at their most excessive.

There’s even room for a Pavement track during the two-song encore - ‘Terror Twilight’ era b-side ‘Harness Your Hopes’ prompting cheers and a rare outbreak of pogoing.

As the foursome leave the stage there’s a feeling that they are as content with the performance as the crowd spilling out onto Byres Road.