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Monday, November 13, 2006

Best Gig I Ever Done See #4 - Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado
Sheffield 1999

Back at the turn of the millenium when minidisk was the new thang, my ex-flatmate Tom from Reveal Records gave me a couple of the compilations of new releases they had put on minidisk to play in the shop, and track one on the first disk was by an American fella called Damien Jurado. Obviously,with it being at the start, I listened to that song quite a bit (It was "Ohio" from Rehearsals For Departure) and when Tom asked me a few weeks later if I fancied a trip up to Sheffield to see him play I though yeah why not..

The gig was in a pub on the outskirts of Sheffield - don't remember the name, but it might have been The Pheasant, or The Golden Pheasant? Damien was supporting The Handsome Family and it took place in the back room which was laid out with tables and candles..a move that immediately worried me - especially as all the people there seemed to be in their 30's and 40's and drinking wine. Then there was me, Tom and a lad called Grant (famous primarily for being daft enough to rent rooms in his house to serial piss-takers Thatcher & Shepherd) - sat at a table looking uncomfortable by candlelight. Maybe somone else was with us - my memory really is crap at times.

Then Damien got up to sing, sat at the front on a sofa, a much bigger bloke than I expected (not fat exactly - just looked more like a rugby player than a singer-songwriter..), and throughout his set you could hear a pin drop as he played a selection of songs from his first two albums. He loosened up as the gig went on and became more chatty, coming across as a genuinely funny, self-effacing guy. He invited a girl up to sing harmonies on a couple of his songs - one of which stuck in my head for years and I was always frustrated that I couldn't find it on any of his albums. Then eventually I located it on the b-side of the ultra-rare Halo Friendly 7" on Summershine Records. Here it is for your pleasure

Damien Jurado - Ocean Shores '87

It was one of those rare gigs where the artist engaged directly with the audience and performed out of his skin leaving you with that feeling of having witnessed something truly extraordinary.

After Damien, The Handsome Family came on and damn near ruined it all by being the exact opposite - smug & annoying with unmemorable songs. I only managed to bear a handful of songs before heading for the bar - standing in the carpark in the late summer evening with my pint. I don't think any of us stuck their whole set.

Damien has an excellent new album out called And Now That I'm In Your Shadow on Secretly Canadian. It's somewhat more downbeat than his last couple but is fantastic nonetheless. I got tickets to see him at The Luminaire in Kilburn in December as he does a short UK tour - miss him and miss out!

Buy And Now That I'm In Your Shadow from Amazon


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