Ryan Adams Surfaces in Jesse Malin Show

IMG_1665What was already a pretty nifty small club gig – with New York rocker Jesse Malin and his band headlining a show also featuring Chuck Prophet at Hollywood’s Hotel Cafe turned into something more notable when the guest stars started coming in during Malin’s encore.

First there was Richard Bacchus of his old band D Generation — together they did “Capital Offender,” the only song from that outfit Malin played all night. But then a puffy, wild-haired, bespectacled rocker in flannel came out. It was Ryan Adams, on stage for the first time in nearly a year, when a New York Times story alleging sexual misconduct made him drop out of sight — the first major #MeToo reckoning in the rock world. Plans to release the first of three albums he announced he’d put out last year were dashed by his record company. Three equipment companies withdrew endorsements.

But Malin stayed a friend to Adams, inviting him on to play what turned out to be five songs from The Fine Art of Self Destruction, the 2003 solo debut from Malin that Adams had produced and played on. It was also the first album Adams ever produced.

As Adams careened around the stage, playing mostly rhythm and adding the occasional harmony vocal, they played “Queen of the Underworld,” “Wendy,” “Downliner,” “Solitaire” and the suddenly ironic title song — a big boost to Adams fans who cheered the return online the next day.

The appearance seemed a bit different tonally from the rest of the set, with otherwise concentrated on the album he recorded out in Los Angeles with Lucinda Williams and released last year, Sunset Kids.

Malin, at 51, carries the mantle of New York rock traditions dating back to Dion, with a tough guy demeanor and a heart of gold. With his newsboy cap and thin frame, he can churn up the rock with his band, but also slow it down for an acoustic confessional.

As a performer, he’ll jump on the drum stand, abandoned the stage, wander through the crowd and end up standing on the bar in the rear of the room — all while still connected with a wire; no wireless microphone for this guy.

Because the show was a warmup for a bigger charity concert he organized at the Roxy in Los Angeles two days later, performing the whole of the Clash’s London Calling with a cast that included Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers, Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Evan Dando, Fred Armisen and Chuck Prophet, he threw in a version of “Rudie Can’t Fail” in the club show.

It wasn’t the only cover — a raucous version of the Pogues’ “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” was augmented by the blast of a two man horn team that couldn’t quite fit onto the modest stage. Also: a cover of The Lords of the New Church’s “Russian Roulette,” and refrain of the Bob Dylan standby “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”

Malin at his best seemed to both span the entirety of rock ’n’ roll and manifest it in everything he did. Plus he was willing to show his longtime loyalty to a guy who had once helped him by bringing Adams to the stage for the first time in 11 months.

As striking as the headlining show was, Chuck Prophet’s set was spare. With his wife Stephanie Finch on standup piano instead of her usual electric model, they harmonized on some of his best loved songs from “Wish Me Luck” to “The Left Hand and the Right Hand” “Summer Time Thing” “Doubter out of Jesus,”  and “You Did (Shooby Booby Bomp).”

But he also had a new song, that named checked another New York rocker and onetime New York Doll who predated Malin, “High as Johnny Thunders.”


Jesse Malin’s set at the Hotel Cafe Thursday was:

  • “Shane”
  • “When You’re Young”
  • “Chemical Heart”
  • “If I Should Fall from Grace with God”
  • “Do You Really Wanna Know”
  • “Death Star”
  • “She Don’t Love Me Now”
  • “Room 13″
  • “Brooklyn”
  • “Turn Up the Mains”
  • “Dead On”
  • “Russian Roulette”
  • “Shining Down”
  • “Meet Me at the End of the World Again”
  • “Capital Offender”
  • “Queen of the Underworld”
  • “Wendy”
  • “The Fine Art of Self Destruction”
  • “Downliner”
  • “Solitaire”
  • “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”
  • “Rudie Can’t Fail”
  • “Greener Pastures”
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