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JESUS JONES/ JIM BOB - Birmingham HMV Institute 27 Jan 2012   Print  E-mail 
Written by Graham Reed  
Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Revolution will be digitised…and Jesus Jones - International Bright Middle Aged Things - will take us there.

Nothing dates as fast as the future, as Mike Edwards himself admits on stage before "Zeroes and Ones", the band's 1993 paen to the forthcoming computer revolution. Try and imagine a world without the laptop, without the internet. How did we cope, with address books and landlines? Before everyone was contactable at the touch of a button? Before the world was instanteous, simultaneous. Before the revolution was computerised, in real time, before our eyes.

Prior to Jesus Jones, is a man and his guitar. His name is Jimbob, and shorn of the drum machine / synth backing combo that is of Carter USM, it feels naked, almost barren by comparison - certainly stripped down ; some of the songs are familiar but don't really sound the way you might remember them. From songs such as the acidic and topical "Tesco Riots", to the closing "Only Living Boy in New Cross", it’s a very different experience to the lights, sound and synths of Carter. But it was always going to be. The 'new' songs (that is, non-Carter songs - ie anything less than 15 years old) suffer only in so far as they didn't come out with the publicity machine of a mega-sized multinational record company behind them, and thus never really got the same attention. It doesn't make them any less good, just less heard. But inevitably, the songs people know always tend to go down better. JimBob smartly alternates the set so its' one new song, one older - you're never five minutes away from a hit, be it "Bloodsport for All" or "Do Re Me". As such, it keeps the rapidly growing larger, almost full to the brim crowd entertained, captivated and always singing along - if they know the words.

Picture:Stuart Taylor

Jesus Jones, on the other hand, Bring the hits and bring, bring, Bring it….Bring it on down.Yeah.Cursed with a bizarre and muddy sound mix - courtesy of the sound man grooving away at the sound desk rather than clearing it up, it's more swampy than the Swamp Thing. That doesn't stop the high energy performance against all odds packed with hits going down fine. Opening with a hits-heavy barrage of singles and classic old albums tracks, "Who? Where? Why?" is an odd choice - I'd have expected something a little more adrenalised than this midpaced stomper. Such as the superlative "Move Mountains", which is - make no (broken) bones about it - a stormer. All Italian House keyboards, fuzz guitar and industrial rhythms. No one else quite sounds like this.

No one else quite got it right, the almost perfect fusion of man and machine, of loud guitars and midi cables. It doesn't quite move mountains, but it does move hundreds of pairs of feet in unison.

The problem with having quite so many big hits, is playing them early on. So "International Bright Young Thing" may sound a bit foolish now that everyone in the band has reached middle age or hairloss. International Bright Middle Aged Thing then. But whilst you do have to get older, you don't have to get old, and the proof is with Keyboardist Iain baker as he jumps around the stage like a man a third of his age, still wearing sweary Tshirts and acting like a toddler whose had far too much lucozade. There's more spring in his step than Zebedee. Singer / Main man / technoology fetishist / Keen cyclist Mike Edwards looks just the same as he always did. I don’t quite know how he does it.Guitarist Jerry De Borg? He looks the same too, and far more comfortable than the panic stations approach last month playing with The Wonder Stuff. Bassist Alan….well, like a cross between Anton LeVay and Ming The Merciless, with a shaven head and Fu manchu style beard. Wierdness abounds.

And that's not all. There's big riffs. Big choruses. Big jumps from the keyboardist. Big hits, too. Whilst its commendable to do something other than the usual setlist - which a lot of bands do - its predictable at time. Whilst not played in ages songs like old BSide "Caricature" (which goes down a storm) make a welcome appearance, what you also find is a nagging air of familiarity.

After all the hits are present and correct, except the obscure ones which you really wanted to hear. And to anyone whose seen them before, well.....all the hits are in exactly the usual place in the set.

So, just like last time I saw them ten years ago.... "Move Mountains" is followed by "International Bright Young Thing" , second or third in the set. "Right Here Right Now" is in the middle. "Zeroes And Ones" comes in at about three quarters of the way in, then huge hit "Info Freako" is put as the last but one song in the main set, which closes with "Idiot Stare".

In a way thats a good job, because as I get older, i find I can go down the front for about twenty minutes at a time. That times it quite nicely, thank you. But no, in all seriousness....changing the Set is to be commended if you actually do change it, you know. I've seen Jesus Jones a few times now, and the inevitable placing of these songs in the same place detracts from the songs themselves. Fact is, It's quite tedious, and I wish I didn't have to write that. Maybe it's just because I'm a setlist geek who notices these things, but I hate to go to a gig and find it quite so predictable.In the same way that you just know when you see Metallica outdoors every summer, the first encore is always "Nothing Else Matters" followed by a stint of feedback, followed by "Enter Sandman". I love the fact that they play different songs, its just the usual suspects are in the same place in the set every time I see them, as predictable as every months gas bill. Changing the songs inbetween still makes their inevitable appearance quite predictable.

But not as predictable as the soundguy posting up the setlist on the mixing desk even before the doors open. So much for trying to guess the next song, when you've had it spoiled for you two hours beforehand. Cheers, dude.

Concentrating very heavily on the first two albums "Doubt" and "Liquidizer" is an essentially nostalgic move, but also forgets the fact that there's a certain core of fans to whom 1993's "Perverse" is their most underrated, and misunderstood album. The set certainly needs a fast paced lift about halfway through, which the sluggish "Get A Good Thing" could never deliver. The sadly missing "Magazine" could have given the set that lift. As could the much loved "Broken Bones"

So, To not hear "The Devil You Know" , the big comeback single from Perverse , is a very *ahem* perverse move, as it has more light and shade than the usual 300rpm frenzy of their earlier material and would have gone down a storm ; and to neglect the follow up that was "The Right Decision" is similarly misguided. Fact is, out of their most recent six singles, only two are played - The aforementioned "Zeroes And Ones" , and straight-in-at-nowhere "Culture Vulture" EP . So I declare the above two, plus "The Next Big Thing" and "Chemical #1" Missing In Action ; last seen in a moshpit in 2005. By the way, Did I say They played "Message"? No? Great song, that.

None of this takes away from the energy and verve of the performance. The Band are having an off night - everyone has them sometimes - but do their damnest to keep things moving. A set of adrenalized sample laden indie-techno-rock, even on an off night they still sound like no one else you can name. The years may have taken their toll, but the energy is still as frenetic as it once was. After all, as they themselves once warned us - the Revolution will be computerised. And now we are watching it, in real time, before our eyes. Nothing dates as fast as the future, but dammit - sometimes the past feels so good, you don't need the future.

Picture:Stuart Taylor.

Jesus Jones- purveyors of fine Indie dance since 1989. Ain't that the truth. God bless the lot of 'em.

Setlist: Who Where Why / Move Mountains / International Bright Young Thing / Caricature / Real Real Real / Nothing To Hold Me / Get A Good Thing / Never Enough / Culture Vulture / All The Answers / Welcome Back, Victoria / Message / Right Here Right Now / What Would You Know / Zeroes And Ones / Bring It On Down / Info Freako / Idiot Stare / Whats Going On / Blissed

Top pic used courtesy of Robert Clarke.


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