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Concert Review by Nick Morgan
The Union Chapel, London April 30th 2009
Jim White Talking of valued recommendations, one of the nicest things about music is sharing; same goes for malt whisky, I suppose. But as is the case with whisky, sometimes it’s hard to call: you have to pick the right whisky for the right person. The bohemian experimentalist will explore and try, and enjoy, anything; often just the experience of something novel or different is enough.
Others are more conservative. And as there’s some degree of personal exposure in doing this – getting it right can strengthen a relationship, getting it wrong quite the reverse - one has to tread carefully. But when you do get it right, it’s delightful. Hence my delight that our fellow fish and chipsters at the packed Union Chapel for Jim White (it’s Big Bobby and Little Claire) have smiles all over their faces only minutes into the gig, and are no less beaming when we wave them goodnight a couple of hours later.
I’m not surprised, since this show, part of a short European tour, scored very highly on the Jimometer.
Patrick Hargon
“It’s sort of quiet in here. That’s how it was last night in Norway, ‘till I told them how happy I was to be in Sweden”. Relaxed and very much at ease, White was accompanied by Patrick Hargon, who jived and joked and made his customised Telecaster positively sing in the rafters of this old church, and Lisa Hargon Smith (yes, they are related) on bass.Mr White is about to make another album, so this is his last appearance in the UK for a little while, and a useful opportunity to try out material on a friendly (that’s an understatement, I should say ‘adoring’) crowd.
“I don’t want to keep on doing the same old stuff, I could have been Phil Collins to do that”. And there are some previously untold stories too. Of the new songs ‘Where would I be’, with some clever looped harmonica, led the Photographer to write in my little black book – ‘now this should be a No 1’. ‘The way of love’ was written as a memory of a chance meeting and the most innocent of kisses with a prostitute on a beach in Florida, where White, then a fundamentalist Christian, once worked as a sun-tan lotion salesman (could it be anything other than a Jim White song?). ‘Hick hop’ sort of speaks for itself, and ‘The trials of Job’ was, given the title of the song, a surprisingly up-tempo piece, almost in a Jonathan Richman rock and roll style. Altogether some encouraging stuff that bodes well for the next record.
Jim White
White began the set with a version of ‘Fireworks factory’, originally recorded with Johnny Dowd and Hellwood and, from his back catalogue ‘A perfect day to chase tornados’, which he introduced with a new story, albeit set on the same beach as the customary anecdote. This latest tale, of an abortive rescue attempt, was a metaphor for life’s relentless quest for the unattainable, or something like that. He played ‘The wound that never heals’, possibly his most disturbing song, about a sexually-abused woman turned serial killer and the very pretty ‘Still waters’ and ‘Static on the radio’. Add the more light-hearted ‘If Jesus drove a motor home’ (“We like playing this song but people keep telling us they don’t like it”), and from his last album, ‘Turquoise house’, which gave Hargon a chance to run through a small manual of classic Country and Western riffs. White ended the show with a solo performance of ‘Bluebird’, the lovely song written for his daughter. A perfect way to finish. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Listen: Jim White's page on MySpace

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