Mr F and I went to the Borderline for the first time in ages last night for an excellent double bill: James McMurtry & the Heartless Bastards headlining with Otis Gibbs in support.
We saw both of them separately earlier in the year - James at the Luminaire and Otis at "What's Cookin'" at the Sheepwalk in Leytonstone. If I had to choose I would say I marginally preferred those gigs but that is only because I like both venues and hearing them separately means you get a full set from each of them, Otis being far too good to be reduced to 40 minutes. But both were on good form again last night.
The test of how well an act is going down at the Borderline is whether they manage to reduce the volume from the idiots who pay £10-15 to get in then spend the entire evening ignoring the bands and holding a conversation at top volume. For some reason this always seems to be much worse at the Borderline than anywhere else, and it started that way last night. But armed only with an acoustic guitar and a beard Otis reduced it to little more than a murmur, while James just drowned it out with sheer volume.
James is touring to promote a new live album plus DVD, "Live In Europe 2009", which as the name suggests was recorded on the tour we saw earlier in the year. It goes on general release in the UK next week but has been on sale at the gigs. Here is a track from it.
"Fraulein O" - James McMurtry & The Heartless Bastards
Here is a track from Otis's 2004 album "One Day Our Whispers"
"Small Town Saturday Night" - Otis Gibbs
And here is James with an acoustic version of my personal favourite, "Choktaw Bingo":