If I had to describe the evening I spent in London in one word it would be “MASSIVEHUGEINCREDIBLEAMAZINGF**KINGROCK’N’ROLL”; well, maybe that isn’t a term that you will find in common vocabulary, but, while forcing myself, I cannot find anything more appropriate.
London is always rainy and freezing cold. The gray old classy town is a must for every rock’n’roll lover and, trust me, no concert will disappoint you; not only for the show itself, but for the atmosphere. Every single band knows they have to bring the heat and the Jim Jones Revue burned the house down. It is a tall order to truly rock the historic Electric Ballroom in Camden Town, and folks, the perfect dinner was served.
I arrived early, shortly after doors open, and already the opening band (Los Pepes) is playing some great rock, unfortunately, to a small, early audience. Among the people slowly beginning to crowd the venue I notice, right next to me, the lovely Daisy and Kitty of the amazing roots band Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. I was fortunate enough to have a very nice and sweet chat; I do love these kinds of surprises. Just ten minutes my night could obviously be considered great and the real surprises were yet to happen.
People began to crowd the Electric Ballroom, focusing mostly on the bars inside while the second support band – Honkeyfinger Skronkbluesexperience – warmed the wooden planks of the floor with a bastard set of electric blues. By now, the hall is full and it would be folly going away from the fence, even for a glass of beer.
Taking stage at 21:30, on time as only the British are, Ladies and Gents, the modern Lords of Rock’n’Roll, The Jim Jones Revue. They are there, before my very eyes, in their dandy clothes worn with innate class, ready to literally roar their instruments. Jim, just a few feet from me, sports a motorcycle leather jacket from which peeps a graceful leopard printed vest, the whole band is highly polished for the most highly anticipated event in some time, their return “home”, in the heart of Camden.
It takes just the first notes of “Where da money go?” to understand that the evening will be set ablaze and these days, there is no one better to do just that. The band is hot as hell and quickly releases the full power of “Never Let You Go”, “Shoot First” and “Burning Your House Down” on the audience; like an eye opening slap on the face. About 50 years ago there was the question “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?”, today, we could ask the same question while looking at the Jim Jones Revue: Jim Jones radiates charisma and sex from every pore of his skin, the whole band has a massive stage presence to say the least (and behind it all there is not only the stereotype of the wild rock’n’roll bad boy, but one of hard work from five great professionals who have never spared even a single drop of sweat on stage, giving the audience a real show) , they are rocking the place inside out with a balls-to-the-wall sound by Rupert, Nick, Gavin and Henri; I wouldn’t be surprised if it crushed the walls of Buckingham Palace. The crowd, both young and experienced rockers, even a few of rock legends, is at the mercy of the Jim Jones Revue; and the crowd plays to them like a teenager in love with the coolest guy in the school.
The set-list is strongly influenced by the promotion of The Savage Heart, so I find myself listening to a lot of new songs for the first time live and, I swear, they are amplified to the nth degree. There is a power to them with Jim and Co. on the stage, kicking like mules and biting like crocodiles that cannot be heard on album. They had previously announced the albums as “Their most exhilarating work to date” and on the stage that truly comes out. During their gig I noticed more smiles than “tough faces” (as the stereotype would like); because first and foremost, they’re musicians who enjoy putting themselves into the show. Just look at the deliberately “robotic” movements by Gavin in some songs, the smile mixed with effort and passion that Nick has printed each time with chopsticks pound his drums, the way in which Henri is so concentrated and yet so fun while at the piano incessantly pounding on the keys and the movements of Rupert and Jim, always in a sort of musical trance, to feel wrapped into something that goes beyond the stage, spreading the vibrations down, to the audience, from the front to back of the house. In this musical context the audience is a fundamental part of the live performance, becoming a rhythm section, clapping their hands, and singing chorus (“Say Yeah slow and low, imagine you’re just a teenager having sex in your bedroom and you don ‘t want your mama to hear it, ” , nods Jim dragging “Righterous Wrong “). The band kept pace, playing at full speed without any sign of abating; pushing ahead their authentic rock’n’roll machine tested in almost four consecutive years of touring in every corner of the world, including pubs, clubs, arenas and big festivals, for about an hour at the highest levels. And like that, they just leave the stage after “Rock’n’Roll Psychosis”. But the Jim Jones Revue are old hands and know the dynamics and timing of a rock concert, so after a couple of minutes they are all back on stage, in front of an audience that never stopped praising them ,singing together , as if a mystical ancestral ritual. They bring “In and Out of Harm’s Way”, going up without any instruments (except for Henri and Nick who remained pillars throughout the piece) and demonstrating, once again, that their latest recording has been a source of inspiration and fun. It is a joy to watch them, clapping and sketching an outrageously cool rock’n’roll choreography behind the microphones, like some gospel celebration officiated by Reverend Jones and Co. The crowd has become one with the band, the barrier between the stage and the fans seems to no longer exist and now our hands and feet move in unison with the Jim Jones Revue’s full charge of energy, built up over the entire concert, the crowd becomes absorbed in a continuous climax.
The JJR, intent to completely destroy the Electric Ballroom, fire the last fireworks with “Elemental” and “High Horse “, a finale to a seamless adrenaline trip. At the culmination of the craziest and most extreme religious experience that is these two songs, all hell broke loose. I personally held at least two guys up who surfed the crowd all the way to the first row, others were jumping one on the other in a genuine rock’n’roll pogo. These were the last notes of an amazing night that still reserve great moments of music. The concert was massive. It was a wall of sound that cleaned the floor with any band I’ve ever seen in a venue like that. On stage, the Jim Jones Revue may boast to have no rivals, and any word I write about them live would be infinitely less than the vibe you get from their performance. Even the new songs blend perfectly for the old warhorses of the band, not giving a minute of rest, even in “calm” pieces, unchanging the punk propulsion that characterizes them live.
A concert in London is not just a concert; it is a ritual, a midnight parade. I’ve seen the Rolling Stones, and when I told Rupert that they are the best rock ‘n’ roll band I’ve ever seen, he simply laughed. A rock’n’roll concert needs that human dimension, cigarettes smoke at the entrance, the occasional fight, couples arguing and taking different directions, but above all, behind a great show there needs to be GREAT people. Jim Jones Revue embodies that. Do yourself a favor, if Jim Jones Revue plays in your area, go and see them. It will be an experience that will change your life. And, if you can, do not miss the opportunity to travel, to go beyond the concert itself, always exploring new boundaries, which only rock’n’roll is capable of giving. London has it all.
Hail! Hail! Rock’n’Roll!
Where Da Money Go
Never Let You Go
Burning Your House Down
It’s Gotta Be About Me
7 Times Around The Sun
Eagle Eye Ball
Rock N Roll Psychosis
In And Out Of Harms Way