Fri 19th Feb
My first visit this year to the Toogenblik and another blinder! I did get there early which was wise as the room was soon filled to capacity, so much so that folks at the back of the room had to resort to standing on chairs to see. Malcolm's a real favourite at this venue; this being his third visit in just less than three years, and it's really great seeing him again as I'm a BIG fan!
Before the show I was ordering a drink at the bar and saw Malcolm standing in the back room. He did look a bit pale and I thought to myself that he's probably a bit tired and feeling the effects of what has been a reasonably long tour with a fair amount of travelling and this for a man who declares that his natural habitat is...the couch! Shortly thereafter Malcolm joined me in the queue for the toilet and we exchanged pleasantries. I asked how he was and remarked that this was a pretty long tour. He just replied "I'm just grateful and very happy that I'm working". It struck me at once that here's a man who appreciates every bit of good fortune and appreciates the things that are important in life, a lot of which are reflected in his songs of home, family, good food and good company....the essentials to a happy existence.
After Luc's introduction in which he described Malcolm (in Dutch & French) as musically speaking his "blood brother" to much mirth from the audience and a bemused stare from Malcolm we were then off with the first number "Mama Told Me So", for two sets of superb music, a joyous excursion through the highways and byways of colourful characters of good and bad times. I wouldn't say he was as "on fire" as the first time he played here but this was a great performance by anyone's standards. A nice first set was rounded off with a meandering story (you never know where Malc's anecdotes will lead) of his dog Holden and "Doncha You Miss That Water". Time for a cigarette break for the maestro and time for him to mingle and say hello to folks sign stuff ect.
Set two really sealed this as a great gig as it contained some of my favourite tunes "Straight and Tall" started it off and was followed by the lovely "Not Forgotten" homage was paid to Malcolm's wife's potato salad with the cracking "Marvelene's Kitchen" and the beautifully intense "Blue Flame" grabbed me as it always does. He growled and snarled his way through "Yesterday's Clothes", playing sometimes three songs in a row as the gig seemed to gain huge momentum. So much so we were at the end before we knew it. During the set I'd been thinking about what to request for an encore if the chance arose and plumbed on "A Far Cry from Here". However, I was a bit slow on the uptake and other folks were quicker on the draw with "Short Street Blues" and "Sparrows and Sparrows" never mind, two great songs. SSB was accompanied with a great tale of a cheap barbecue grill, chicken, drunkenness, fire trucks and great BBQ sauce (made me feel rather peckish to be honest). Then, at the end of the last number, at the very last moment came the crowning moment of the whole evening as Malcolm went straight into the opening chords of "A Far Cry From Here". And, as he was playing I'd noticed a few people from the back had crept down to the front and were sitting on the floor between the chairs. It gave a sort of around the camp-fire
feel, a moment of real warmth with all eyes set on this dishevelled kindly troubadour with his torn brown jacket and straggly hair as he played one of his best songs. I could've easily have shed tears at that moment it was so intimate, so wonderful. It was certainly another performance that will live long in the memory.
I took time to get the CD signed and have a photo taken and a chat with the great man and I was off into the night for the long drive back. Around the Brussels ring road with Malcolm on the ipod and a lovely low lying crescent moon I thought "what a grand old life it is"...thanks Malcolm.Set One
Mama Told Me
For The Mission Baby
Hannah's Trading Post
Whenever I Pray
Doncha You Miss That WaterSet Two
Straight and Tall
Who Carried You
Kiss Me When I'm Sleepin'
Another One Gone
A Bigger Plan
Thank God For My JobEncore
Short Street Blues (request)
Sparrows and Sparrows (request)
A Far Cry From Here