Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Saint Jude…Live at The Borderline. March 2011.

Rock N Roll/Soul/Blues

If you go to enough live gigs then you will know that every now and again it is possible to stumble into some magic.

This was one of those gigs.

I’ve been a fan of Saint Jude for a while, their album found me at the radio station and has been an ipod companion ever since. On first listen I genuinely felt like they were a group of great musicians who had basically sat down with a copy of The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion by The Black Crowes and written an album that, song for song, followed the framework set out in the Crowes’ masterpiece. This nod to the Crowes is only meant to compliment Saint Jude as there are few other acts I hold in such high esteem as Chris Robinson and his soon to hiatus group of rockers.

I’m not here to review the album, but just in case you haven’t twigged it yet, it falls into the must own category in my view. It is all that, and a bag of chips.

So, live.

To those rare few that posses a real talent, something unique and different, something that hasn’t been seen or heard before, brilliance is effortless. Lead singer Lynne Jackaman is in possession of such a talent. If Saint Jude make it big it will be Jackaman who takes all the headlines. Her vocal chords have been dipped in the finest rock whiskey, distilled by anthems past, and woven skilfully into a pocket-rocket of a lead singer. Seriously, this girl can sing. Amazing. Like all great acts she, and the band actually sound better live where they have the freedom and adrenaline to let rip.

Jackaman’s voice is a joy to hear, and she doesn’t disappoint with her visual performance. Watching her face as she sings, she is feeling every emotion, guiding us through the meaning of the song as well as treating us to that great sound.

She looks the part too – a pint sized rocker with big sexy hair and a dress that oozes 60s hippy chick.

But how about the rest of the band? The dudes that’ll have to blend into the background behind this joyful, tiny superstar? In a word – outstanding.

I wasn’t quite sure if the band would be able to pull it off live. But I can report with delight that these fellas can play. They have either rehearsed to death or they grew up playing together as they followed each other in perfect sync. Two guitars, one bassist, drums and keys, occasional harmonica and even less occasional backing-vocal – they did their jobs with real class.

As a drummer myself I’m always looking to pounce on the rhythm section, but not a beat was dropped. Like all great drummers Lee Cook appreciates that real class lies in keeping it simple, pounding out the groove and letting the fills speak for themselves.

The guitars wove around each other with a psychedelic rock vibe that made me wonder if I’d fallen back into the 70s, the bass kept the whole thing walking on up soul street, and the unsung hero was the keys. Joe Glossop was stuck out on the corner of the stage, but like in the album, his contribution was to bolster the melody, enrich the tone and hit home some roaring chords from an assortment of gorgeous organ, key and piano sounds.

It was a great gig.

Is there a ‘but’ coming?

Possibly. Although this is not one of Saint Jude’s doing.

My concern actually was the audience.

Saint Jude will quite rightly praise and thank the people that have supported them so far…but I sincerely hope as word grows, the crowd demographic changes. It seemed that about 80% of the people that turned out were aging male rockers with old leather jackets and rapidly escaping hairlines. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with these guys, clearly a quality, well-informed bunch. But they won’t be the future for Saint Jude and actually I felt the band were held back a little by the crowd’s reluctance to get involved with the music. I can only recall one ‘sing along’ moment and there was very little dancing. I know they were appreciated, but this band needs a new market. It is a classic sound with a fresh spin and they deserve to be heard on a grand scale, they need to get young faces in their scene, they need to get female faces in their scene, and they need a party atmosphere that youth and a 50/50 boy girl split would help to drive.

I have a suspicion that Saint Jude are about to soar. Airplay is increasing, they are playing a set of gigs in Germany starting this week, and the festival circuit is about to welcome them with open arms. I really believe they have so much to offer. My advice is catch them before the world catches on so you can say ‘I saw Saint Jude back when they were still playing to a few hundred people’…so you’d better get a wriggle on!

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