Wednesday, July 28, 2010

JBM and Sondre Lerche Played Mercury Lounge: Pictures, Review

Last night we stopped in at Mercury Lounge to catch fantastic sets from two fiercely divergent songwriters, and to celebrate a record release to boot. The first, Sondre Lerche, delivered his customary playful, endearing, and rocking set. In contrast, Jesse Marchant (as JBM) delivered a set that leveraged his own unique musicality over a variety of genres and sounds.

Sondre Lerche took to the stage just after 9:30, and broke into the set with a new song on a tuned down acoustic guitar. After wrestling with the tuning for a bit, Lerche delivered "Red Flags", which took a slightly darker take on his earlier material, while at the same time holding on firmly to his innate sense of melody.

Over the next hour, Lerche's set traversed most of his career, although it tended to focus more on his newer material. Of particular note were a jumpy, staccato, electric version of "Dead Passengers" that ended up with Lerche jamming himself into a frenzy of guitar explosiveness. Another new song made it's way out at the end of the set. Entitled "Domino", it also used the down-tuned acoustic, and was similarly dark in delivery.

His set was accented by the arrival of two musical guests, the violinist "K", and a duet with Dawn on the always-lovely "Modern Nature". While not strictly necessary, the guests (along with a variety of guitars and a high energy level) served to bring some variety to Lerche's set, and keep him from falling too far down the black hole of "guy with a guitar" blandness. To the contrary, he delivered a set that was dynamic, jovial, and almost impossibly lovable.

Soon after, Jesse Marchant (JBM) took to the stage for a set that would also last about an hour. In contrast to Lerche's set, which was unified in its sound and delivery, Marchant delivered a set that ran the gamut between quiet and loud, stoic and rocking, solo and with band. The stark contrast between songs served Marchant, as it called attention not only to his versatility, but his ability to completely embrace each of the genres completely.

The material (as might be expected) was sourced largely (entirely?) from his debut record Not Even In July, for which last night was the record release party. However, much like the record, the tracks varied in their arrangement and instrumentation. For part of the set, Marchant was joined on stage by openers Diamond Doves as his backing band, and for others he took a solo seat to his songs. Moreover, even his solo act varied, sometimes finding him behind a makeshift drumkit, sometimes with a harmonica and guitar, and sometimes behind the keyboard.

If all of this variations seems like a bit much to believe, you feel about the same way we did witnessing it. Even more remarkable was that Marchant pulled off his many roles with ease, and topped it off with a voice that was one of the best we've heard live in a very long time. With an innate ease of delivery, Marchant's vocals rode on top of the instrumentation like an effortless wave of melody. To hear it is to believe it, we say.

Last night was JBM's record release, and he should be more than a little excited: not only has Jesse Marchant created a killer record, but he also has proven that he can deliver a live performance that surpasses the quality of his recorded material by a long shot.

More photos at the HAD Archive


V said...

Saw this via BrooklynVegan. JBM was great. I was disappointed to find such a small crowd - I thought there'd be more of an interest. But I drove home and had a very pleasant musical aftertaste in my head that lasted for days. Great photos, too.