Live at the 100 Club London
(c) Sam Atkinson Photography
The era of the so-called New Romantics here in the UK ensured that ever since then it has proved wise to approach ‘fashion’ bands with extreme caution. So many of the acts emerging then put looks above musicianship, posing above composition. Not only that, they were often supine in the hands of trendy producers who piled on the tinny guitar timbres, squeaky keyboards and hideous gated and harsh drum sounds, rendering a lot of recordings of the time pretty unlistenable – then and now. So how come an absurdly young London group fronted by a male model can produce a splendid debut single and launch party to match ?
Make no mistake, this four-man outfit Jenners Field have a lot going for them and the turnout for what really is a private party crosses all demographics, both sexes, all ages. I don’t think anyone there can have left unimpressed, the band’s potential is almost tangible.
If at first glance they might be taken for a ‘Ninety-minute make up, ninety-seconds tune up’ crew, any of the songs performed tonight knock that notion into touch. Jenners Field might look good and singer Laurie Belgrave might be newsworthy lens fodder BUT he plays a crisp Telecaster rhythm guitar and sings like the offspring of LeBon and Sylvian. Hence the group are much closer in sonic impact to, say, heyday Talk Talk as opposed to this month’s Visage. A lot of care has been taken over the backing vocals, principally the achievement of sturdy bassist Grant McNeill who steams through the set. Guitarist Danilo Borgerth spins out chords, spiky lead runs and many tones, some verging on spooky yet just right for each song. Drummer Jed Kellett is an absolute powerhouse, equal parts skill and ferocity. He sounds as though it is New York bands like Television and Talking Heads that have influenced him most, the frantic ‘city’ attack is pretty evident from what he plays tonight.
Right, the new release – it’s called ‘Drunk Drive’ and it’s the edgiest single I’ve heard in ages. The drums thunder out of an ambient synth cloud and don’t let up for a moment, dark guitar and bass spark out a staccato tempo, sometimes veering off into the old Mel Torme four-descending chords figure found on “Coming Home Baby’ and the later Spencer Davis ‘I’m A Man’ but here thrown into the maelstrom as a hook. The more I play this record, the more I hear the stamp of Thom Yorke on Belgrave’s vocal but this is no RadioHead rumination, it’s a rush of a rock song, crashing into an abrupt ending.
When the current pop charts remain full of anodyne ‘r & b ‘ tunes that go nowhere, how does a young group that often sound like Duran Duran being chased into a Black Hole by Hawkwind fit in ? They probably don’t, but all the more reason to savour and encourage them….
The first selection is ‘S.O.F’ – ‘Soul On Fire’ ? – all plucked guitar and plaintive singing, delivered in semi-darkness and featuring a solemn falsetto crescendo, ‘Brave’. ‘Camberwell Grove’ and the flamboyant ‘Lifehouse’ establish the Jenners Field sound, intense drumming to the fore. The young females are dancing in front of the stage, the rhythm section sounds more and more comfortable and the guitar sounds keep exploding. The singer’s mini Korg is used for keys interludes and riffs. ‘Frozen’, ‘Hope There’s Someone’ and the ace composition ‘Sail On’ woo the crowd whose enthusiasm is maintained throughout the show, Then after the catchy and stabbing ‘ 1980’s ‘ is spat out, the single gets a tuneful hammering.
The encore ‘Wolf Like Me ‘ sees all traces of self-consciousness vanquished, the whole band opens up and roars through the song like a supercharged Talking Heads. A fabulous rendition.
Very minor carps : the moody intro number works well but 90 seconds is the most you can run at that tempo for maximum impact when a show starts, so maybe better to slot a faster song early into the first number and then come back to ‘ S.O.F’ ? also they might think about a call&response vocal passage in one of the songs to harness the audience’s energy. Needn’t be a corny anthem or ‘ AgaDoo ‘ type song, but a crowd likes to sing sometimes, so let them.
If Jenners Field can sustain their energy and keep writing good songs, they will be a huge asset to the London and hopefully national music scene, probably internationally successful in time
Pete Sargeant www.fairhearing.co.uk