Paul Goodwin

The pirate's life for me

Published on Thu 10 Oct 2013

I went to see The Mountain Goats at Union Chapel on Tuesday. Last time I saw them was a couple of years ago now, but was wonderful, and this time was very different but (I think) just as good. Alessi's Ark was supporting, and I've always written her off as trendy and boring, which to be fair, she didn't really dispell, but she added seemingly quite nice to the list of adjectives. One of the people I was with (I forget who, probably James from The Pony Collaboration) summed up what everyone was thinking by saying "I didn't mind listening to that". There was one song that stuck in my mind a bit about the moon or something. Think she said it was on her next EP, so I might check that out. She had a multi instrumentalist guy with her who did some quite impressive stuff in terms of coordination (playing a few instruments at once) though I'm not sure it added much in terms of atmosphere.

There was no drummer this time, and the bass amp didn't work for the first half a song ("Jenny" from the recently re-released All Hait West Texas which it turns out I love - they have so many albums that I think I've still only heard about half of their songs, and the production, much as I don't care about production, is often a bit hard to get past) but The Mountain Goats were a cut above most things I've seen. There wasn't as much as I'd been hoping for from the latest album, Transcendental Youth, which I love, but there was quite a lot from The Life Of The World To Come, which I think I might love but I have trouble identifying the songs because they're all named after obscure Bible verses. Here's a video someone took of "Jenny". I think a fair percentage of the views were me in the last couple of days.

There was some top quality storytelling and banter, especially a 5 minute discourse on American Football tactics/positions/career length (leading into another song from All Hail West Texas) and an explanation that as a Californian he's been conditioned not to shake hands with anyone on account of the germs. Also, even though I now know Woke Up New (it floored me when I heard it for the first time at the gig I mentioned above) it still gave me tingles. He used the fact that he was in a church with an attentive audience to good effect, singing really quietly when the song could take it, which is a luxury he didn't have at Koko, one of the boomier rooms in the world. 

There don't seem to be many decent new bands that have come through in the last year or three so it's nice that my old faithful ones are still setting the bar high live. I think The Mountain Goats are my litmus test for whether people like the same things about music that I do.