The Mekons: October 9, 2011 City Winery – Flac and MP3 Downloads + Streaming Song

October 15, 2011

[photo courtesy of Edwina Hay]

The Mekons played two local shows this past week, and while we were not able to attend either (as we did in 2007 and again in 2009), friend of the site and occasional contributor neild was in the house.
He reports:

“To say that a Mekons performance is an odd one would seem to be redundant: For a band that has donned cowboy shirts and performed Hank Williams covers for 1980s punk crowds, collaborated with Kathy Acker on an album about lesbian pirates and Vito Acconci on a performance piece that involved playing one song for 45 minutes behind movable curtains, and recorded songs from their own show-in-progress on a cassette recorder and auctioned them off to audience members as “MeTunes,” odd is pretty much expected.

That said, this was an odd Mekons show. First off, it was at City Winery, where the upscale decor made for an unusual setting for a bunch of art-punk veterans. (They’d played a more traditional show at Brooklyn’s Bell House the night before, as part of a one-week US tour in support of their new record Ancient & Modern: 1911-2011) Secondly, this was billed as an “acoustic” show, though it would have been more accurately termed “sit-down”: All eight Mekons (vocalist/guitarist/lead quipster Jon Langford, vocalist/foil Sally Timms, vocalist/accordionist Rico Bell, bassist Sarah Corina, vocalist/guitarist Tom Greenhalgh, drummer Steve Goulding, violinist Susie Honeyman, and vocalist/saz player Lu Edmonds) were arrayed across the stage in chairs – Goulding sat on a cajon drum box in place of his standard kit – with one member or another occasionally arising to take the center stage mic.

Finally, Ancient & Modern is an odd record even by Mekons standards. The theme is Edwardian England during the run-up to the First World War, a time of accelerated technological achievements, concentrations of wealth, war, and terrorism concerns. (Two songs on the new album, “Space In Your Face” and “Arthur’s Angel,” [streaming below] name-check the 1910 bombing of the L.A. Times building and the World War I Angels of Mons legend, respectively — look ’em up on Wikipedia if you’ve never heard of them.) The music, meanwhile, runs the gamut of Mekons genres, from straight-ahead three-chord rock (“Space In Your Face”) to spare old-timey piano ballads (“I Fall Asleep”) to one song, “Geeshie,” that was apparently inspired by an obscure 1930s Geeshie Wiley record and then took off in a Mekonesque direction.

For the longtime Mekons fans in the crowd, the highlight of the evening was the return of band co-founder Greenhalgh to the US for the first time in four years. Greenhalgh sported a very Edwardian moustache and a tan suit that made him look as if he should be sipping sherry at the Explorer’s Club. As for the show, the “acoustic” setting didn’t much change either the song selection or the volume levels: Moments of pure wall-of-noise multi-throated sing-alongs (“Hard to Be Human,” “Curse of the Mekons”) alternated with aching beauty (the Timms-sung live rarities “Waltz” and “Learning to Live On Your Own” in particular), and were interspersed with the usual Mekons banter that has at times made them almost as appealing as an improv comedy act as a rock band.

The show was recorded with Core-Sound binaural mics on an iRiver 320 outfitted with Rockbox and a Microphone Madness battery box with bass rolloff applied. The recorder was right in the thick of the crowd, just left of center about 25 feet back from the crowd, so you’ll hear the occasional audience comments – but then, that’s only appropriate for a Mekons show, too.”

Stream “Arthur’s Angel”:

This Recording is now available to Download in FLAC and MP3 at [HERE].

The Mekons
City Winery
New York, NY USA

Digital Master Audience Recording
Recorded 25 Feet from the Stage

Core Sound Cardiods > I-River > 16bit 44.1kHz wav file > Soundforge (level adjustments, EQ, set fades, downsample) > CDWave 1.95 (tracking) > Flac Frontend (level 7, align sector boundaries) > flac

Recorded by neild
Produced by nyctaper

[Total Time 1:52:55]
01 [introduction]
02 Thee Olde Trip to Jerusalem
03 Diamonds
04 Honey Bear
05 [banter – Marianne Faithful]
06 Afar and Forlorn
07 [banter – folk music]
08 Orpheus
09 [banter – all Sally]
10 Waltz
11 Space In Your Face
12 The Letter
13 [banter – 1907]
14 I Fall Asleep
15 [banter – calling all the rabbits]
16 Calling All Demons
17 [banter – ordering drinks]
18 Geeshie
19 [banter Arthur’s intro]
20 Arthur’s Angel
21 Fletcher Christian
22 Hole in the Ground
23 [banter – encore break]
24 Shanty
25 Learning To Live On Your Own
26 Heaven and Back
27 [second encore break]
28 Wild And Blue
29 Hard to Be Human
30 [band introductions]
31 Curse Of the Mekons

If you email nyctaper for access to this recording, we expect that you will PLEASE SUPPORT The Mekons, visit their website, and purchase Ancient & Modern 19110-2011 at the Bloodshot Records / Sin Records site [HERE].

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3 Responses to The Mekons: October 9, 2011 City Winery – Flac and MP3 Downloads + Streaming Song

  1. October 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    it was a hell of a show. yep, the city winery location was not exactly a rest stop on the njt, but it was nice gig. and it was nice that it wasn’t a billion degrees in there like it is at alot of scuzzy rock shows. i was at the narrows sit-down show in 2007 and it was incredible. also a billion degrees. mercury lounge was awesome last time too. and the bell house this year was an incredible performance. the mekons have gotten too good, almost. steve and sarah are an unstoppable rhythm section now, and although tom looked a little out of place at times, it was excellent to have all eight mekons there this year, even if that meant less lead singing from rico and none at all from renaissance-maniac lu.

  2. neil d
    March 5, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Just noticed belatedly: “sax” player? What manner of fiendish autocorrect is this? (Lu plays the saz, which a kind of Turkish lute.)

  3. March 5, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Ever vigilant in the accuracy of the archives, I have changed the rogue x to a z.

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