A man with clunky glasses, turned up jeans, bare feet and a nice bottle of Chablis isn’t everyone’s idea of a god. In fact, it’s not a far cry from most people’s idea of Elton John. Nonetheless, just such a man was veritably worshipped by every last human soul in Koko on the second Thursday in September, 2010. John Darnielle managed, with exultant ease, to create endless ecstatic moments for the totally devoted crowd. Endlessly picking out individuals from the crowd for a quick bit of interaction, he smiled, laughed and leapt about before returning to the matter in hand (a guitar, mostly).
Darnielle’s the uncontested heart of the Mountain Goats – songwriter and front man to end them all. Here’s a piece of advice for you: if you want to meet John Darnielle, perhaps touch his hand, and feel a few hundred pairs of envious eyes burn the back of your lucky, lucky head, always take a capo when you go to see the Mountain Goats live. The last two times FFS’ve seen them play, he’s forgotten his, and thrown himself on the mercy of a more than obliging audience. Mix in the fact that he needed it for ‘No Children’ (best sung in a divorce lawyer’s office, he tells us), and it’s clear that the guy who did the lending at this particular show is feeling pretty special. We’ll be packing one for every future gig they play. Just in case.
Darnielle exudes eccentricity and honesty from every lovely orifice: he asks photographers to leave after 3 songs because they distract him, but feels a little bereft when the camera exodus occurs. He says angst “aungst” (we’re going to from now on, too). He talks to road signs about existential crises, and they refuse to change their tune.
There was something for everyone in the set list. Songs that speak to everyone who was ever a teenager or has had a feeling and are, quite rightly, massive crowd pleasers, like ‘Cotton’ and ‘This Year’ had us screaming like little girls. On a different note, Rare recording ‘Shower’ was a treat for die-hard fans, who make themselves known by whooping for a song many of us haven’t heard of, let alone heard.
Christ alive, this was a great show. Here’s a playlist of roughly how the gig went: Mountain Goats at Koko. Rub yourself up against a sweaty fellow, bounce up and down a bit, and work out what the volume knob’s for. That’s all we’ve been doing since.