Following the critical mauling of his latest movie, The Brown Bunny, Gallo has embarked on a short series of dates to showcase fresh material - his first since 2001's When, the set of delicate ballads that unveiled a more vulnerable side to the voluble self-promoter.
Gallo is infamous for bile-ridden grudge-bearing and regular proclamations of his genius. Indeed, he looked combative as he emerged, dressed in a silver blouson with his hair slicked back, like some glam rocker. Yet his first words apologised for the lack of sound crew. Crew? There wasn't even a seat by the organ.
He was accompanied by two respectful backing musicians, for rather than jam with established stars, Gallo has scoured his native Los Angeles to form a more low-key trio. Given the penchant in his films for incongruous situations, it was apt that Theresa Becker-Wayman was visibly pregnant. She still managed to sing in winsome fashion behind her drum kit. It was unnerving how their voices flowed into each other, though swapping lines between the two was the only progression in Gallo's more recent songs.
Meanwhile, the studious Woody Jackson swapped between muddy bass guitar and jagged lead. Looking like a more serious Dave Stewart, he was a supple player, ill-used on some formless blues jams. At least the group relaxed during these instrumentals, for the tension during Gallo's vocal numbers was comically absurd.
These were straightforward laments of nursery-rhyme complexity ("I am sad when I am lonely"), supported by the barest sketches of melody. Yet Gallo sought to imbue them with sombre gravitas. The pauses between each line were excruciating, worsened by dedicated fans hushing the audience.
Gallo's most worthwhile contribution was between-song banter to flesh out his romantic odes. He was even brave enough to admit Becker had dumped him after a couple of dates, for another bloke. With his disarming frankness, Gallo brought some California glow to the evening, though it was still a night of pasty-faced bedroom music.Reuse content