Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Danielson / Jeffrey Lewis @ The Luminaire, 3 December
"Any trumpet steppers in the audience?" asks Daniel Smith a bit cryptically a few songs into Sunday night's gig at the Luminaire. There's not much response from the crowd. "Surely there's some" continues Smith "There are in most cities we go to". But apparently not. But everyone knows what's coming. Maybe they're all bracing themselves for what follows. One of the greatest, catchiest, most joyous songs of the year. And almost on cue, as soon as Danielson strike up Did I Step on Your Trumpet, a guy emerges from backstage and pogos wildly around the venue until the song ends. Then he disappears back behind the stage. It's a funny, almost surreal moment, but entirely in keeping with what this gig should be about. Really, for a song like that, we should all be leaping like the pogoing man. The crowd doesn't really get warmed up till later.
But before we go later, we should cast our minds back to Jeffrey Lewis. He's supporting Danielson tonight. I saw him years ago supporting X, but somehow he looks a lot younger than I remember him. Maybe he's doing a weird sort of reverse ageing thing. His boyish looks are a suitable accompaniment to the (faux?) naivety with which he undertakes his slide shows. He's on the floor going through a slide presentation of his drawings to accompany songs - the first about a hole in sun containing a match factory, and the second a high-school version of Chinese history. It's trite and silly, but he's got enough charm to pull it off. Nice drawings too. The rest of his set is divided between his gently strummed acoustic stories, and some folk-rock-outs, with his band, and effects pedal in full effect. It's all rather good stuff. And leftfield enough to serve as a suitable opening for the latest episode in the adventures of Daniel Smith.
If you're not familiar with Danielson, you've not been reading this blog lately, and are possibly missing out on something unique and special. I've been enthusing about them since 'discovering' them a few months back, first via the encouragement of friends, then the Ships album, then Danielson: A Family Movie last week. The band has been through so many versions, the only seeming constant being the main man himself, Daniel Smith. First it was really a large family, then they brought in friends (including Sufjan Stevens) and partners. Now the Ships album from earlier in the year is a celebration of the wideness of the entity called Danielson. Tonight it's a slimmed down band - there's only four of them. Daniel, David, Chris and John Ringhofer (aka Half-Handed Cloud) on bass. I was a little bit disappointed that the women weren't there to add their bit to the joyful noise (I guess there are other families to be looked after), but the blokes managed fine on their own.
I don't remember a gig when I've worn a smile on my face all the way through like this one. Maybe I didn't, but it felt like it. I've mentioned the words 'joyous' and 'joyful' before, and there, I've said them again. That said, it's not like Daniel and co are all happy bounciness or fake cheer. They just get on with playing the great songs, and let them do their own work, getting in under the skin, working their way inside and making smiles suddenly pop onto faces. Danielson play what seems like most of Ships. Daniel belts out his trademark high pitched yelps. And even the bits where he instructs us how to sing and clap along don't seem cheesy or contrived, despite some wag shouting out "Sunday School". It's all part of the Danielson experience and it just feels right. They go off and come back to play Sing to the Singer, and although the set seems too short, my evening is complete. I can go home with a smile on my face. The same smile that was there all the way thorough.
Download: Danielson - Time That Bald Sexton
Download: Danielson - Five Stars and Two Thumbs Up
Download: The Danielson Familie - Sing to the Singer
Check my photos of the gig at my Flickr photostream
Three Pink Monkeys has a load more of (better) photos at her Flickr stream
Another friend was even quicker off the mark with his post on the gig.