Review of his gig in Whelan's, Dublin, 3rd April 2001
Howe Gelb - or Howe as he has now determined to be known (because, well how many other Howes do we know in music?) - introduces his set with a fine display of foostering - playing snippets of songs on his CD Walkman, tuning and detuning instruments, plugging and unplugging. This is not nervousness because Howe is completely at home up there. The bemused expression gives it away? what are these people doing in my living room - and looking as though they expect me to entertain them? Well alright but? 'you really shouldn't encourage that kind of behaviour.'
Howe is wont to jump from guitar to keyboard several times mid-song and the effect is as angular and jagged as his thought-processes are lateral. There is a kind of logic at work here? albeit it one that only Howe can fully understand. Never mind, for he is never less than entertaining. Not to mention charismatic, charming, confident and unconventionally funny. Welcome to Howe's world, where global warming is caused by an excess of songs and too many lyrics cause Alzheimers!
Ironic then, that the available crop of Howe Gelb / Giant Sand material is so prodigious he can show us a 'set-list' of 71 songs - though only a handful are performed here - 'Shiver', 'Stuck', 'Bottomline Man' among them. Oh, and some ramshackle renditions from his forthcoming album of cover versions. All this aside from the solo record he is touting at this current crop of gigs? making his beer money you see. And sure enough, when the barman delivers a creamy Guinness to the stage Howe duly coughs up. 'No privileges.' No indeed and no encore neither because we shouldn't encourage that kind of behaviour! Just a piano jam along with sometime Giant Sand collaborator, Rainer Ptacek - on CD! Then a simple sidestep off stage, leaving us to queue, beer bubs in hand.