The Stone Pony is Perfect for Jesse Malin

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Jesse Malin and his band at The Stone Pony

Back in the 1980s, then-New Jersey Governor, Tom Kean, was part of a tourism campaign that would have him intoning New Jersey and You, Perfect Together at the end of every commercial.

Jesse Malin’s PR team could riff on that phrasing by saying “Jesse Malin and Asbury Park…. Perfect Together” and it would be spot-on.

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A punk rock troubadour since his early teens, Queens native Jesse seems as at home in Asbury Park as in his trademark newsboy cap. When he’s on stage at The Stone Pony, a venue he’s played many times, or perhaps Convention Hall during one of his numerous Light of Day appearances, you can tell he wants, and loves, to be there.

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The Clash’s Joe Strummer on Jesse’s  favorite guitar

I started listening to Jesse around 2007 or 2008, when he did a song called Broken Radio with Bruce Springsteen. And while I’ve done a couple of 30 second portraits with him, I’ve never seen him perform.

Currently touring to support his latest album, Sunset Kids, which was produced by Lucinda Williams (who will be appearing at the Asbury Park Music & Film Festival this April) and includes guest vocals by Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day), Joseph Arthur and Williams herself, Malin and his band (Derek Cruz on guitar, James Cruz on bass, Rob Clores on keys, Danny Ray on sax, Satish Indofunk on trumpet,  and Randy Schrager on drums) heated up a packed Pony on a chilly late February Saturday night.

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Ready to go on stage

“My first album, The Fine Art of Self Destruction, was about finding glory in the wreckage,” Malin says on his website. “Sunset Kids is about owning it. The failure, the victories, the moments. And moving up from there.”

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Derek Cruz

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Satish Indofunk on trumpet

When he first took the stage, Jesse had on his cap and a leather jacket zipped all the way up and his Joe Strummer festooned guitar on his shoulder. A few songs in, the jacket came off, sleeves on the burgundy shirt got rolled up and the guitar was humming.

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Eventually, the shirt could get unbuttoned, leaving the white tee shirt and suspenders. This was much more suitable for his energetic performance, which included two forays into the crowd, both of which ended up with him on top of the side bar.

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When he came out for his encore (well, it wasn’t really an encore, just a short break because he told the crowd “We’re not done yet”) it was in a fresh, black Atomic Sound t-shirt.

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Malin’s set was packed with a number of songs from the Sunset Kids, with Meet Me At The End of The World, Room 13 and Chemical Heart being top-notch.

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Jesse’s setlist at The Stone Pony

Also great was Shane, an ode to the legendary frontman of The Pogues, Shane MacGowan, a rollicking version of Sally Can’t Dance, and a closing number of You Ain’t Going Nowwhere (a Bob Dylan cover) that included Jesse and his band, as well as cats from the opening acts: Mike Montali from Hollis Brown (more on these guys to come), Drew Eckmann of The Eck’s Men, Matty Carlock of Matty Carlock and the Jailbirds, as well as Asbury Park songstress Rachal Ana Dobken.

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A full jam to end the show

The Stone Pony show was the last of Jesse’s U.S. tour for Sunset Kids. March brings with it the overseas portion of the tour, with a first stop on March 1 in Nottingham. But, have no fear, Jesse and the band will be back in AP in the fall.

Because…Jesse Malin and The Stone Pony…perfect together.

Here’s a video slideshow with a few more photos:

 

A version of this post also appears on Backstreets.com

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2020

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