|The Jim Jones Revue collect their Best Live Act award.|
With an awards ceremony dominated by names that made their mark over a generation ago, the Artrocker bash might have made more of a commentary on the state of music, rather than the musicians they nominated. So, the Jesus and Mary Chain won an award for best new re-issue and Gary Numan was awarded a Legend gong. The attendees did their best to feign interest when the other bands came to collect their prizes but it was the big names (and the free booze) which captured the attention but not quite the imagination.
One band that did stand out was the Jim Jones Revue. They were awarded best live band and were praised highly by a number of people at the ceremony, where they were due to play later that evening showcasing some of the winners of the Artrocker awards.
They certainly looked the part. Quiffs? Check. Leathers? Check. Sideburns? Check again. It certainly helps to be a good punk’n’roll band by looking the part – but you’d better have some smokin’ tunes and a lead singer that is 2 parts starved tiger (ready to rip its prey from limb to limb) to one part catwalk model.
The JJR busted all the right moves from the rock’n’roll textbook. There were guitars-in-the-air showmanship, a keys player who dripped sweat and saliva all over the ivories, some arse-tearing guitar solos and an impressive pair of lungs to belt out their numbers. However, despite these qualities there was something missing. An absent ingredient that makes the good more than just good – that makes them show-stoppingly unmissable, with the kind of rebel cool of a John Spencer or a Nick Cave who play, coax and tease their audience. The kind of cool where the frontman can walk off with your girlfriend at the end of a gig, and somehow you’d still feel privileged.
The set had urgency but lacked that warmth of showmanship and confidence between songs but more telling was the lack of dimension to their music. Perhaps this was part of the problem – there was little in the way of variation to distinguish one song from another for the unintiated. Live sets, just like albums should be something of a narrative – there needs to be that full throttle energy but there also needs to be times when the music is slowed down and the audience’s energy harnessed. JJR lacked that, and as a result, sounded at times AC/DC derivative. While their current LP ‘Burning Down The House’ offers little in the way of variation, there are tunes on the first JJR album that bring out a greater contrast to their formula.
In a sub-genre that has legends like The Cramps and John Spencer Blues Explosion and other notable bands like The Supersuckers, New Bomb Turks and The Bellrays, being original is not really the point. But the good bands, the really good bands, somehow offer a blood transfusion to the traditional interpretation of white boy Blues.The Jim Jones Revue may well become one of those but they’re not there yet. In the meantime, if you’re looking for ballsy rock’n’roll and a decent live performance they are worth checking out but it’s nothing you couldn’t get at one of London’s better Blues nights.