It’s been four years since Jandek started appearing live. And while he still isn’t exactly a touring musician, he’s appeared enough times that the kitsch has worn off. It is time to see if his live act is any good based on performance alone. And he’s given us plenty of opportunity to do so.
Glasgow Friday is just the latest in a number of live records Jandek has released from Corwood Industries, and it shows his live act as something strange and sprawling, and—if we are foolish enough to have expectations—something pretty surprising. With his live band, Jandek is far less reserved than he sounds on record, and he is not afraid to turn up the volume. Those expecting the spare, death blues of his acoustic albums will be sadly disappointed. These are long controlled messes passing as renditions of his songs. And the longer they are, in this show, the better they seem to work.
“My Plan” and “Walking Blues” take up 24 minutes combined, and are the two best songs here. When Jandek sings “My plan is to say ‘no’”, he doesn’t use the quiet croak you hear on record. He bellows it, low and full, and sends a chill down your spine. Nothing in his records would make you think Jandek could be a passable performer, let alone a solid one that can even arrest you at times. It still remains to be seen how much these shows are for the audience. But even if they feel like eavesdroppers in front of the elusive Jandek, they’re hearing a pretty strange and beautiful secret.