Jeff Finlin and Pat Buchanan
Live - The Borderline, London, 5 October 2002
Pat Buchanan opens the evening, with Jeff Finlin drumming. At the start of the tour there was a bass player as well, but he was 'let go', and frankly the sound is fine without him. Pat mixes stuff from his first album, something of a homage to '60s Britpop, and his new one, which takes more of a conventional singer-songwriter route. He's a bit of a guitar hero, and every so often the power chords sneak out, and none the worse for it. Jeff Finlin fills the gaps with some nice understated drum work and also supplies backing vocals. Towards the end on a new song, 'I don't want to be your enemy', Pat succumbs to the urge to wig out on guitar, much to his and everybody else's delight. A good start.
After a brief break the duo return, with the drums abandoned and Jeff on acoustic guitar. Pat displays some beautiful subtle guitar work, in stark contrast to the all-out attack of his own set. But the star of the evening is undoubtedly Jeff, his songs and his voice. For some his voice is one only a mother could love, but for me its sandpapery, quavering sound is one of the most evocative around. Tom Waits is an often-quoted reference point, both for voice and songs, and Jeff doesn't lose out in the comparison.
'Sugar Blue' has a louche late night feel and the performance is magnificent. 'Perfect Mark of Cain' ('She knew that losing everything was the only hope of finding more') is done sparsely and works all the better for it. 'West of Rome', 'Waiting on a Flood' (where Pat is let off the hook a bit), great song after great song passes through.
Jeff Finlin is one of the few true originals around at the moment. He hangs out somewhere on the fringes, and he's not an easy listen, but he's definitely a rewarding one. A great night.