The Jim Jones Revue, Tupelo Sound Assembly and Los Caballeros – The Tunnels – 18/04/2010
Following our our interview with The Jim Jones Revue we at FnS Towers had been looking forward to this gig for a while and we were not left dissapointed as it turned out. Anyway… there’s no point in dressing it up any more than is needed, three bands on the night with Tupelo Town Assembly and Los Caballeros making up the rest of the bill, and three different reviews from FnS contributors to mull over. Read on…
Unfortunately the school night scheduling meant I was driving and after some indecision trying to decide whether the top of the hill opposite Markies is likely territory to get a parking ticket these days (I elected not to chance it, but it seems that it would have been safe enough as 2 non-ticketed cars were there post-gig), I made it into the Tunnels with time to spare to obtain a shandy before the first support band kicked off. The night started well on 2 counts – firstly the beer wasn’t as bad as I recalled from my last visit, although this may have been due to the generous ratio of lemonade to lager and secondly, the Tunnels smelt less nasty than it has during my most recent visits.
First up were Los Caballeros, a drums and guitar duo smartly turned out in Reservoir Dogs get up and who play instrumental surf music. This endeared them to me instantly, as twangy guitar music has been a long time favourite of mine ever since I discovered my Dad’s ‘The Shadows 20 Golden Greats’ album as a nipper. Opening with blasts through Link Wray’s ‘Rumble’ and Eddie Cochran’s ‘Summertime Blues’, they continued with a set of surf standards and the ‘Batman’ theme before closing with a rendition of ‘Wipeout’. They were pretty good, but unfortunately the venue size in this instance worked against them, making them seem a bit lost and thin-sounding at times, mainly during the lead guitar breaks – a bass player or second guitar to pad things out a bit may have helped. This, however, would mess up the undoubtedly planned aesthetic of the 2-piece format. I’d certainly like to see them again in a smaller venue. If I stumbled across them playing in the corner of a pub somewhere I imagine it would sound amazing.
Second place on the bill goes to Tupelo Town Assembly, a band I think were spawned from the ashes of Staccato Set, a band who drew a fair amount of local acclaim. Truth be told, they never really did it for me on the one occasion I saw them but I’ve seen TTA before at The Moorings and enjoyed them so knew what to expect tonight. They are a 3-piece, comprising vocals/bass, guitar and drums, who play a highly fuzzed-up and swampy blues-rock. The singer to my ears sounds uncannily like Glenn Danzig, which is a good thing in my book, but unfortunately I found his vocals were frequently lost in the overwhelming noise of the bass guitar a lot of the time. This may well have been due to my vantage point, I’ve found this with The Tunnels, the sound mix can vary drastically dependent on your positioning. There were a couple of instrumentals in there which appealed to my aforementioned twangy guitar tastes – the first one played really reminded me of The Meteor’s version of ‘Johnny Remember Me’…not sure if that is intentional or not, the band look old enough to be familiar with it! There was a murmuring about an EP being available but I must admit I forgot to see about getting one in my haste to make for the beaten track home…so if any of the band happen to read this, please get in touch to discuss some form of transaction….
After a decent selection of tunes on the house PA that seemed to be from the ‘Songs We Taught The Cramps’ series of compilations, The Jim Jones Revue trouped on looking like extras from ‘The Loveless’ (early Willem Dafoe film about bikers making a nuisance of themselves in small-town America – if you haven’t seen it, you should), with dyed black quiffs, skinny jeans, Cuban heeled boots and waistcoats all in place. They proceeded to kick up an unrelenting racket from the off. Jim Jones is a veteran of Thee Hypnotics among others and the rest of the band also appear to be mostly of a more ‘seasoned’ vintage (other than the bass player who looked quite youthful). While younger folk in these parts tend to carp on about how music is solely a young persons domain, the musical virtuosity of these guys shone through with a tight set obviously borne of years of experience. The keyboard player in particular deserves mention for his Jerry Lee-styled pounding.
Jim Jones himself is a fair old showman, with frequent calls for audience participation and a repertoire of hip shaking, foot stamping moves. Sadly the response was probably not as energetic as he obviously desired and ultimately deserved and I think that may be down to the fact it was a Sunday night. If ever there was an ideal Saturday night on the lash gig, this was it, and it sounds as though Glasgow were the lucky participants in that particular event. They seemed to enjoy it none the less, and the energy coming off the stage was non-stop. Even the roadie in the corner was giving it plenty! So much so that the drummer struggled to get his attention to sort out a problematic cymbal at one point…
Highlight of the set for me was ‘Cement Mixer’, a primal stomp that would sound at home on a ‘Nuggets’ compilation of garage punk tunes from the 60′s. Other highlights included a version of Elvis Presley’s ‘A Big Hunk O’ Love’ and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Psychosis’. A couple of new tracks suggested that the forthcoming second album proper will be a worthy purchase.
This was a strong line up and I think the most enjoyable sober gig I’ve been to in a fair while…let’s hope someone manages to get the JJR back on a Friday or Saturday night if they make a return visit….. Godzilla Blues
So it’s another cold and miserable Sunday night in the sticks, the pubs are empty and there’s bugger all on TV. What are you gonna do? Well, check out some of the red-hot rock ‘n’ roll that’s on offer at your local red-hot rock ‘n’ roll dive, that’s what, motherfucker!
Seems like I’m in the minority though as, following the short drive down to Aberdeen, I check in at the Tunnels at around 8pm to find only a handful of people dotted around the venue. Fortunately, a few more creep in before the first act of the night take to the stage.
Los Caballeros are a sharp-suited two-piece – drums & guitar – who treat us to a frantically paced and (mostly) perfectly executed selection of surf instrumentals and revved up rock & roll standards. Kicking off with the classic Rumble which is quickly followed with a romp through Summertime Blues – more Who than Cochran – it’s soon clear that these boys can play. The guitarist reminds me of the teenage Weller in his stark black & white rig out as he thrashes away at his Gibson, and then he backs it up later in the set by tearing through the Batman theme. As much as I’m enjoying their material though, the whole time there’s a wee voice in the back of my head nagging away “They need a fecking bass!!!” And it’s true. No matter how hard they try, and believe me these boys give it loads, some of the tunes have all too obvious holes just screaming to be filled by either a bass or second guitar. If they found another player up to their standard to do that, I believe they’d really be a force to be reckoned with. As it is, they’re frustratingly close as is proved by the set closer of the Surfaris’ Wipe Out which doesn’t quite do it (for me anyway). None the less, it’s been an entertaining start to the evening and it’s whetted my appetite for more high energy rock ‘n’ roll later on.
Next up is the Tupelo Town Assembly, a three-piece who play strung-out, fuzzed-up blues tunes that feel like they should be the soundtrack to the film Se7en or, better still, being played in the nightclub at Twin Peaks. They’re therefore perfectly suited to The Tunnels. So convincing is the imagery that they evoke that I’m taken aback a little when, between songs, singing bassist Andy Stephen DOESN’T aim a wad of chewing tobacco towards the spittoon, pull a Colt 45 from behind his back and shoot an audience member through the heart. Instead he thanks us politely for our applause – which of course is nice, if a little less satisfying. But anyway, I digress. These guys can really play. The songs are cleverly constructed and allow their respective talents to shine through. Although there’s plenty going on, they clearly understand that what you leave out (of a drum pattern or lead solo) can be equally as important as what you put in. I’m very impressed. No more so than with a song they introduced as being a new addition that unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of. Probably due to the fancy mic contraption they were using which sadly didn’t quite mange to rise above the rest of the sound for some parts of the set. That’s the only very minor grumble though in what was a thoroughly enjoyable half hour or so.
Time for a quick run to the bar before the main event and I discover that The Tunnels has now got a reasonable crowd in although it’s far from packed. In fact I make my way down to the front easily with room to spare. Even when the band take to the stage and front man Jim immediately encourages everyone to move forwards, there’s still room to move.
First thing I note about these guys is that they look great, just as a rock ‘n’ roll band should. Long limbs encased in skinny black suits and Chelsea boots, the hair is a mix of slicked back DA’s and grown-out Stones cuts of the most synthetic black you can imagine, polished guitars low-slung and their trademark electric piano set somewhere around knee height! There’s a quick hello then they slam into the first number like a freight-train hitting a wall and at once, the stage is a blur of activity and I don’t know where to look first.
What the Jim Jones Revue do isn’t anything new. It isn’t anything particularly clever or groundbreaking or pushing out at the boundaries in any way. No, what the Jim Jones Revue do is take good time fifties-style rock ‘n’ roll, the beating heart at the centre of ALL contemporary music since then, and drag it into the 21st Century kicking and screaming, then shove it right into your face shouting “Remember this?”. They play like men possessed with everything turned up to 11. They’re showmen too. No inch of the stage is uncovered as they shimmy and shake, crouch and leap, pout and preen their way through the set. The piano player must have thighs of steel as he maintains something that resembles a limbo position throughout the set, one leg pumping out the time, his hands a blur as they pound up and down his keyboard. Jones himself is a magnetic front-man, sometimes cajoling, sometimes piss-taking as he teeters on the very edge of the stage forcing the crowd into participation.
It’s a strange crowd though. Rapturous cheering and applause after each song but nobody is moving much at all. However, it’s the piss poor attempt that meets Jones’ best efforts to get a call and response session going during one song that is the most cringe-inducing. I dunno whether it was a Sunday hangover, or the thought of work in the morning that made everyone so subdued but it was really slim pickings that I think the band neither expected nor deserved.
Unperturbed though, they tear on through the set, laying waste to most of the tracks from their self titled album from last year An untitled new song is aired and it sounds pretty damn decent. . The 100mph pace is only slackened for the sleazy bump & grind of Cement Mixer. These guys are so unbelievably tight as they scurry around the stage, never dropping a note, making it look so effortless and cool. Even their roadie never stops moving from start to finish, bopping away whenever he’s not retuning guitars or adjusting cymbal stands. All too soon though, time is called and we reach the last song. The DJ starts up right away so we know there is to be no encore tonight. To be honest, going by how drained Mr Jones looked as he collapsed into a chair by their merch stall, I think we’d have been pushing our luck.
So…..to summarise…..the best live rock ‘n’ roll band in the country right now? I dunno, but the wide grins and animated conversation in the car on the way home would hint at it so they must be pretty damn close. They’re the Jim Jones Revue – catch ‘em while they’re hot! New York Johnny
So, how do I follow up two such informed reviews? By telling as it was for me thats what! I can’t really do comparisons like in the previous two reviews and I see no point in trying to bluff otherwise.
Los Cabelleros. Absolutely loved them. Seriously. Maybe talking generally a couple of songs seemed a little flatter and less exciting than the others. The long opening song(s) got my attention straight away and really enjoyed the entire set although, being honest, I’m not sure how many more numbers they could do before you’d eventually get a little bored. From what I could tell both musicians were very, very, good and I’ll throw the cement brick into the tumble dryer and say why not a vocalist instead of a second guitar? Maybe on the last 2-3 tracks of their set it’d work best, just an idea of course but I was more than happy with what they served up on the night. A high bar was set for the evening indeed.
Tupelo Town Assembly. Best tracks for me were the two instrumentals by far. The vocals on the night just totally didn’t suit what I liked. They were too strong and firm if that makes any sort of sense., and were amplified though an old style mic of some sort? (can someone correct me on this?) Great music, but I seek after a much more rocky voice. If it helps you make your mind up why I’m thinking like this I’m not a fan of Johnny Cash either, and believe me I’ve tried so hard to get it.
The Jim Jones Revue. Oh yes. Oh yes yes yes. I like a bit of grrrr in the old tunage with some absolutely fantastic showmen doing what they do best in front of a crowd. While we’re here the strange crowd was touched on earlier well all I can say is that I’m not sure if anyone knew what to do! Seriously, there were smiling faces, nodding heads, toes being tapped, entire legs being tapped but to do the ol’ rock n roll shuffle was maybe one more step too far. Just so much going on all over the stage and delivering those blistering tunes with a sharp and rusty, even poisoned edge to them. Fkn lovely. I’m pretty sure that almost everyone that was there will tell at least one person how good a show they put on so I’ll look forward to a near sell out appearance next time. Still Burning