Venue : The Sausage, Leamington Spa
Miles travelled this weekend so far : 34
Date : Friday 7 August 2009
Date of writing this review : 14 August 2009
It’s the evening before the Fish Convention in Leamington Spa. I am at a pub called The Sausage to see Jump. I have a long weekend ahead of me because I intend to take in parts of the Fish Convention and parts of the Cambridge Rock Festival. Jump are here tonight after a 5 minute conversation with Mick at The Peel – it’s influence is getting everywhere (which reminds me to remind you of MattFest, an all day event at The Peel on Saturday 29 August).
Jump are off getting food when I arrive, so I have an opportunity to chat with vocalist John Dexter Jones’ son, Sam, before things get going, and persuade him to let me see the setlist, which always makes writing the reviews easier. Although I’m not sure I was meant to mention that. Looks like a great set, though. Finally Fish comes ‘on stage’ (into the area of the pub where the band are set up), “Welcome to The Sausage, the sizzling Sausage”, and it is full now, so it is becoming sizzling in there. The band are on, and in the words of John Dexter Jones, “In the words of Robert Plant, it’s been a long time”, and the guitar cuts in and Andy Barker’s drums kick and we launch into Doctor Spin, bouncing along with a hard edge and the bass thumping through. It’s a great lick from Steven ‘Ronnie’ Rundle and the track moves along uptempo, with the drums driving us, both guitars now working around the drums, vocals on top, keyboards flowing under them, and as the track comes to a close John cranes his neck to hear the applause, and milk it. There is no need, because the crowd already very well appreciate the entertainment being set before them and show that appreciation. They carry straight on into The Automated Modern Fool, the guitar sound sharp, a pulsing feel before the sound flows through in bursts, the rhythm hard and firm, with some great bass from the new guy, Phil Mayhew. It pauses into a part dominated by the vocals, then charges on, the vocals forceful within an interesting mixture of rhythms. “This is the first pub we’ve played in for a while…and if you get bored you can watch Sky News”, and the drums kick in to A Man Was Made, joined by Mo Hayes keyboards and the guitars from Ronnie and Steve Hayes both flowing through. There is emotion in the vocals, a dramatic performance, the sound growing into the chorus, the melody flowing as the vocals cut in on it, and John has the microphone lead wrapped around his neck as he continues, and the guitars burst through with a hard edge before the track moves on to a softer sound, still driven by the drums, with the keyboards and bass providing substance, as it grows again into the chorus, and the guitars almost growl to the close. John gets the tv switched off. The crowd applaud. He then tells us how Mick arranged the gig when Jump were playing at The Peel with Panic Room, and this leads into the story of how Kingston Corner Blues came to be written – it’s turning into a bigger intro than even Fish manages. “I’m playing for time because we have got a keyboard issue”, and then there is a big riff to hit us off and the notes float out, the track settles and eases along, the sound coming together and rolling as the melody floods through, bouncing along as John plays to the audience. The guitar is edgy and then pauses as the vocals dominate, before the track rolls off again, tapping along then easing to a close. “We did that Sunsets On Empire tour” and they head into a relatively new track, When The Grinders Fire, the sound easing along before kicking off, a hard edge, cutting, very Rush-like for me (which is a good thing), easing again and rolling with guitar flourishes, the rhythm steady and keeping us moving along. The vocals grow, become more frantic, and then there is a bigger sound to the whole track in short bursts, before it eases again. The drums hit us off again into the hard sound, the guitar phasing through, the vocals emotional, powerful, the sound having that Rush feel again, and the track pauses, John gets applause going, and the track starts up again as people are clapping, moving into a piercing guitar solo from Ronnie, flowing and soaring, a wonderful Pink Floyd feel to it, and then the sound returns to that hard theme to end.
Next up is the “first in a trilogy”. John tells us how he stopped writing love songs early in his career because he realised others wrote them better than him, but they could not write about his family who died in World War I better than him. Bethesda is an established track from the 2001 album, On Impulse, about his Uncle Dai, who died in France. Its lovely melody flows out from the two guitars as Andy’s drums tap out below it. Mo’s keyboards add another layer and Phil’s bass rumbles through. But, to be honest, this is all about the storytelling of John’s vocals, and the track winds its way along with the voice, branching out into parts with harder edges, the drums now moving us along, pausing as the guitar melody floats through and the vocals come through to dominate again, before the guitar echoes to a close. “It’s been a long time since we played in a pub with crystal chandeliers”, and Three Times Down is a track about another relative, taking us on to World War II and dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, or rather how it was not dealt with because it was not recognised at the time. The bass thumps out as the drums tap in, the guitars flow, circling, and the vocals take us on a storytelling journey again, the track easing along until the drums start to tap faster and it kicks into the chorus, rocking now, bouncing along, the guitar bursting through and the vocals animated, emotional, before it settles again, growing into the chorus once more, the guitar now cutting through in flourishes, pausing into a keyboard part, easing along, then hitting off again into a big riff, pausing for the vocals to dominate and then fading to the end. “I can see whelming going on, but I am not sure if it is over or under. What do you think, any good ?” And there is silence, before the laughter. The third part of the trilogy, “a new song which we have not played live, so we thought it would be a good idea to do it in Leamington Spa. If we get to the end of it, it will be something close to a miracle”, and it’s The Sniper (and for the sake of good order, I believe it was played live before this gig, but I still have that review to write up) – a mellow start from the guitars, flowing, floating, the drums gently hitting along, the bass also gentle, rumbling, the keyboards flowing under it all. Then the guitar buzzes off, climbing, a big sound now as the guitar moves off again before the track settles almost to a halt, then moves on again with the bass picking up, and the drums start to move us on into guitar flourishes, then the guitar is back climbing, that earlier theme, pausing for the vocals to come through, then soaring into a flowing solo, the sound rising, piercing, and the track settles again, the cymbals ticking and it comes to a close.John looks at his more than half empty pint glass. “Is anyone feeling rich ? Don’t all rush at once…I’ll have to make this one last”. He tells us about the Sunsets On Empire tour, drinking Chateau Neuf Du Pape with Fish…in pints, but he was fine going on stage…until about 20 minutes in, and he does not remember anything after that point. The guitar has been running under his speech and now The Freedom Train rolls off, and Sam joins his father on stage for the vocals, Mo on tambourine, and as the guitar comes in high Sam somewhat sheepishly leaves the stage to cheers (not because he was leaving the stage ! Will be very interesting to see his own band), and the drums tap in now as the track eases along. Ronnie’s guitar picks things up with a busy riff, and there is a big sound rolling now with cymbal bursts, before it eases down to allow the vocals to come through, and closes with a guitar flourish. No-One Spoke is “another brand new song”, written when John was on the bus back to Aylesbury, “the home of Prog – read all about it in Silhobbit”. The drums kick off, the guitars buzz in, cutting across each other, and it has got the sound and feel of The Blockheads, a big beat hitting through, the vocals very definite, everything rumbling along. It is moving in phases as it eases down from the big hard sound and then grows again, the guitar cutting through more melodic as it holds, now shuffling along, before it hits off and rocks, moving into a sharp guitar solo, keeping the tempo picked up as it rolls to an end. “Claims to fame – I did a gig with Mick Pointer as well”, and John goes into the first line of Script For A Jester’s Tear, before the guitar takes us into Someone Else’s Prayer – Part 1, the drums giving a martial beat and the track coming together as the vocals move on, keyboards floating through, the bass throbbing, then the track opens up and rolls. The guitar comes in on a sustained note, melodic, then flowing with little flourishes, before building into the main part before settling again, as the drums kick us straight on into Staring At The Rain from their latest excellent ep (go to jumprock.co.uk to buy it), and we bounce along to the big rhythm, the guitar buzzing along, the keyboards giving the melody as the vocals drive us. It is a hard sound as the vocals become more powerful, easing down into flowing guitar which has a Dire Straits feel to it, and then the vocals are frantic, insistant, the guitar coming through as John’s vocals become lighter. The bouncy riff leads into an intricate, soaring solo, and the sound continues with guitar flourishes as we head to the close, a big finish with the guitar echoing, and big applause from the crowd.
“Fish christened Cheltenham Town Hall the wedding cake, and when we played there recently with Midge Ure all the technicians were still calling it that.” John continues, saying they are going to finish early in the vain hope there will be a big push for merchandise. And by now there is chatter on stage, so he shouts, “stop saying random things”, and some wit in the crowd takes the opportunity to shout “Grendel”, but it seems they are not going to be playing that tonight. Instead, it is the Monica Lewinsky song, Used To The Taste. It eases off with busy drums, the guitar sound is sharp, but floating out, bass thumping through, with the guitars circling now, and it rocks along, medium paced. The hguitar cuts in hard before floating on again, rising sharply, moving into a solo with flourishes, and the track continues along with a harder rhythm guitar sound as it grows, the vocals shouting out, the lead guitar soaring, the drums blasting us into a funky bit of Feel Like Making Love by Bad Company, and then a stacatto Pop Muzik by M, some of led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, then a big bass sound as we rumble on. The guitar runs, then the sound quietens for John, “covers bands – money for old rope”. Into Stevie Wonder’s Superstitious, and then John is off into I’m The Leader Of The Gang (I Am), but Ronnie decides to go down the route of The Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant, “that’s not Gary Glitter”. And it is at this point that the people sitting outside the pub shut the window by the side of the stage, so John goes over, opens it, tells them it is hot inside and that if they do not like his dancing or the music then they can get lost. And we move into the vocals of The Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz. “We only know AC/DC songs now”, and we get Whole Lotta Rosie, a few chants of Angus from the crowd, before a full singalong to Back In Black, “someone plays an AC/DC riff and you’re all there like it’s Christmas”. John introduces the band, including new bassist, Phil Mayhew, previously “sat in Cookham learning Pendragon songs”. And we carry on into Free At Last, almost drifting along with a relaxed beat and the guitar rolling through, but with some edge, and it is another lyrical story being told, animated vocals, the crowd singing along the chorus, a mellow sound within the melody. “Have a great weekend, you’ve already had a good start”, says John, and then the pace picks up and the track rolls, moves into a treble sound with wonderful flourishes on the guitar, and the sound has really grown before it eases down to close. “Thank you, Fish fans, goodnight. You can put Sky News back on again now.” And the crowd call for more, but time has gone.
You can catch Jump again very soon, in a number of guises. John Dexter Jones & The Steven Twins are playing an acoustic set at the Hobble On The Cobbles free festival in Aylesbury on Sunday 23 August, and then the full Jump will support Darwin’s Radio at The Peel on Saturday 26 September. If you are there, then I shall see you at both.