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Concert Review by Nick Morgan
 
JIM WHITE The Luminaire, Kilburn, London, October 19th 2007
First of all I should apologise, particularly to the man in the red shirt. I was ducking and diving through the crowd with a couple of glasses of beer when much to my surprise I found myself almost at the front of the audience just right of centre - and there’s no way back. Ok for the diminutive Photographer, but not so good for your six foot tall reviewer. Not before too long the overwrought red-shirt (a North American as it happened) indicated rightly that he thought my behaviour a little inconsiderate. Whilst trying to explain my predicament and sooth his agitation I stepped down to the first of two steps that led to the stage front. There I fell foul of the farting and foul-smelling Sapphic ogres, who had formed an unlikely cordon at the front, more intimidating than the famous line of Hell’s Angels at Altamont back in ’69. I’d noticed them at the door, each one menacingly chewing at a jar of pickled onions, daring the punters to make eye-contact.
Abused and thwarted I was back in front of red-shirt, but managed to move slightly to the left to give him a line of sight (ironically the space was immediately filled by another six-footer who spent the whole night taking pictures, which must have pissed him off even more). Anyway, I adopted an exaggerated Shakespearian stoop (think Marty Feldman as Richard III) and tried to spend the rest of the night (in between using the smelling salts that were being generously passed around to the needy) pretending not to be there. Richard III
Strangely, despite numerous subsequent applications of ibuprofen-rich analgesics my neck is still in agony. Such is the degree that I’m prepared to suffer for my art.
We’re in Kilburn at the Luminaire. Opened about two-and-a-half years ago above McGoverns Bar in the High Road, it has quickly become one of the most admired venues in London, scooping numerous awards along the way. It’s worth while looking at how and why they run this independent venue the way they do, because it is very different. And when they say this – “We thought that, instead of acting aloof and moody when people arrived for a gig, we welcomed them and asked how they were and maybe had a bit of a conversation and a laugh, they'd remember that and tell their friends” - I can report that it’s absolutely true – staff at the venue were also remarkably helpful and amusing when we had to ‘phone to check out a few things, and the bar staff were cool, charming, relaxed and astonishingly polite. It’s quite a place – and I can’t hold the venue responsible for that slight unpleasantness at the front of the stage.
Jim White Oh yes – and it’s Whiskyfun favourite Jim White, last seen hanging out with Johnny Dowd and Hellwood. Much apparently, has changed since then. Jim’s turned 50 (he almost shares a birthday with the Photographer) and found some sort of peace within himself. He’s also got a second child (a picture of daughter No 1 still adorns his Telecaster). And critics reviewing his rightly well-received new album, Transnormal Skiperoo, have all bemoaned the fact that Jim appears to be, not to put too fine a point on it, happy.
Jim White
Well it’s a happy album indeed that has a mentally ill boy walking into the “golden sun of the headlight of an oncoming train” (from the powerful ‘Take me away’, which we first heard at the Bush Hall in 2004). And although Jim tells us that now he’s 50 he hasn’t got time to be maudlin anymore, I think the following comment is more revealing: “The first album [Wrong Eyed Jesus] had a lot of aching on it, and a lot of hunger for redemption. This album, though… I feel more at home, and I feel like I belong and have a purpose here”. So it is perhaps contentment – not always the same as happiness. And that apparently is Transnormal Skiperoo: “Transnormal Skiperoo is a name I invented to describe a strange new feeling I've been experiencing after years of feeling lost and alone and cursed. Now, when everything around me begins to shine, when I find myself dancing around in my back yard for no particular reason other than it feels good to be alive, when I get this deep sense of gratitude that I don't need drugs or God or doomed romance to fuel myself through the gauntlet of a normal day, I call that feeling Transnormal Skiperoo”.
Patrick Hargon
Patrick Hargon's customised Telecaster
Jim White gigs are a unique experience – the audience is privileged to be taken into Jim’s intimate world through his wonderfully constructed songs (both lyrically and musically) and anecdotes. On the music front Jim’s aided and abetted by the excellent Patrick Hargon on a customised Telecaster (“I play it real hard--so hard it will make your teeth hurt, like you bit on a spoon too hard”) a bass player, and somewhere amongst the wires and boxes “the Japanese drummer who doesn’t drink”. Japanese drummer
The Japanese drummer >
Set List

He talks himself well past the curfew, telling us not just about Jesus (how many times does He get a mention during the night?), but about growing up in the Deep South, about life as a taxi-driver in New York, playing college fraternity gigs in Texas, and about his family. He’s very dry, very funny, occasionally scabrous (I’m not going to print those) and sometimes very moving. If you want to know what he played then take a look at the set list.

It’s another fantastically performed set from Mr White and his colleagues. We’re very lucky to have him here, and I only hope they treat him well at home (indeed if he were a Brit he would have already been given ‘National Treasure’ status several times over). I wouldn’t be anywhere else – and not even the most malodorous bowels could make me move. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Kate's Jim White photo album



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