Tuesday, 6 July 2010

453 PLUTO MONKEY, JACK DRAG, The Wardrobe, London Kentish Town Bull & Gate, Monday 24 July 2000

Did a bit of research for this one, after I found out that Boston's Jack Drag, a band we nearly went to see in Beantown in May (their TT's show clashed unfortunately with American Hi-Fi!) were following up their recent UK single with a debut UK date. In other words, I phoned Boston rock oracle James Horrigan, an old friend of JD mainman John Dragonetti, for the lowdown on the current Jack Drag incarnation!

Thus armed, the Swindon branch of BRAS (Boston Rock Appreciation Society, sadly!), i.e. Rachel and myself, hit the capital at 7.30 and after a couple of games of pool, arrived at the venue, a new one for me but virtually next door to old stamping ground The Forum, at 8.15. I made myself known to John in the bar, who was incredulous about having Horrigan and Valauskas namechecked by a Brit! We chatted about Boston rock, and he introduced us to his girlfriend, who turned out to be none other than Blake Hazard, smiling support star of gig 447 in May! So we completely missed first act The Wardrobe. Never mind.

Jack Drag themselves took the stage at 9.30. The current incarnation reflect the more introspective, less fuzz-rock mood of their current material, with vocalist and serious axe hero John being backed up by keyboardist Evelyn, some drum tape loops, and... er, that's it! The set crept in politely, with slow-fi folky pastoral shapes reminiscent of Kraus' lot Jr. Corduroy, but powered up assuredly and steadily. I'd been led by James to expect a shrinking violet onstage, but John was a confident performer on good form. "Crazy" built like a Sheila Divine number, all sturm und drang and unascended crescendos, and single "At The Symphony" provided a libidinous rhythm to really let John cut loose on the guitar. Throughout, however, the set was nothing if not emotive, the songs heading straight for the gut and scoring every time. Another fine Boston rock set, but hey, did we really expect otherwise?

Quick compliments with John after the set, which was rewarded by a gift of one of Drag-mate Evan Dando's old guitar picks! We then headed back into the venue for Pluto Monkey, offshoot of Dawn Of The Replicants and fronted by their barmy mainman Paul Vickers. the wild-haired Vickers, a man never even remotely acquainted with his own chuff, was as mad as ever, assuring us that the fire exits will be adequate in the event of a fire, "but you never know where a fire is likely to start!"; informing us that DOTR were actually all killed in a, "strange boating accident in Keever Canyon!!" and arguing with his back-up guitarist as to who was the first stigmata (!). Musically, they were shambling and untogether like very early Fall, but entertaining all the same. Didn't buy the CD on offer, though! We left following another chat with John - another Boston buddy in the making!

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