Thursday, 11 March 2010

559 JACK DRAG, The Four Storeys, Elastic Bandidos, Oxford Zodiac (downstairs), Friday 17 May 2002

Second Jack Drag live experience in two nights; mainman John Dragonetti mentioned the previous night that this was an early one, and with an Evan weekend to come this was most welcome. Also, a promise of being on the guest-list was enough to sway us into going to two in two nights! Dragged Shifty Disco fan Beef along as well, although he had to pay to get in! Hit the venue at 8, in on the list as promised, and into the little-used downstairs room. First thing which hit us was how cold it was; then we saw the fish! A mini aquarium was built into the far wall between the venue and backstage. Weird!

Stood near the fish as the first band came on just after 8. Apparently Swedish, they nevertheless had a Pulp-ish late 60's British B-Movie soundtrack feel to them, but were a little dull for my tastes. So we chatted with John while they were on, and got him some British beer! Oxford's Four Storeys were next up; apparently 3/4s of old Britpop wannabees Thurman (seen at Reading 1995), they weren't bad actually. Not a million miles removed from their forebears, but with more of a knockabout 60's feel to them, rather than the slightly glammy stylings of old. More Ray Davies than Marc Bolan, if you like! John kind of liked them, anyway.

Jack Drag were due on at 9.20 and joined us exactly then - this was an early one, as promised! This time, we got the full works as they played for the best part of an hour, again leaning heavily on the new CD, but this time throwing a couple of more familiar tracks in from the last "Soft Songs" CD. Once again Jack Drag were bright, colourful and poppy with slightly trippy and ambient overtones, but never losing the attention or interest. "There's a lot going on in our songs," drummer Steve Scully had mentioned, and this requires the sound to be balanced well, and once again it was, despite Blake having terrible problems trying to hear her keyboard through her monitors!

The word "accomplished" is terribly overused and abused, but it's spot-on when describing Jack Drag. John's songs, introspective without the wallow, and emotive without the angst, are seriously accomplished. The work of a softly-spoken but cerebrally very articulate man, and his guitar work in particular touches the ragged hem of genius. Another damn fine show, during which for me the thoroughly absorbing oldie "At The Symphony" stood out.

Shame then that the evening ended on a slightly bum note; John had invited us backstage to "the other side of the fish", and we chilled there while the guys cleared their stuff off the stage. However, the promoter then turned nasty and confrontational for no apparent reason, demanding backstage be cleared of the band's gear for his cocktail bar at 11. And this was still 10.30! So, tired and with an early start, we left him to his hissy fit, and Jack Drag to the clearing up. But hopefully we'll meet again - next month in Boston! (note, and yes, we did!)

No comments:

Post a Comment