JESUS JONES, London Bull & Gate, 02 May 2013
One by one, they fall. The venues that were the lifeblood of a culture.
A generation from now, the idea of every town having a couple of small rooms where, at any given night, there's a band playing live music for around £5, will seem as archiac as the cassette single.
Because what Britain needs is more gastropubs. What Britain needs, more than live music, culture, and a room full of sweaty people jumping up and down, is yet another set of tables and menus and food. Everywhere looks the same. A Wetherspoons in Doncaster is the same as Dunstable, An identikit world of shops and pubs and bland, boring, nothingness. Because what Britain needs is more gastropubs.
Hence, with barely two days left in its life as one of the few remaining, genuinely spit-and-sawdust rock venue “toilets”, The Bull & Gate is rammed to the rafters. The Bull & Gate has seen countless legendary gigs. Its future will include countless legendary £6.95 Burgers. Progress is beautiful. No longer will friends meet friends in crowded, noisy rooms, or their future wives, future ex-wives, or future anythings. Because the joy that comes from jumping up and down in a crowded room with a few hundred strangers to songs you love is incomparable compared to the potential profit that can be generated by yet another gastropub.
Where would bands be without these type of venues? They now have to get onto the internet, record their material, and upload it, give it away, get 40 million plays on Spotify to earn less than minimum wage, and build a kind of fame through a riskier avenue. Bands can make a living through the Internet – but normally, the band has to be fairly big to do so in the first place. What cannot be replicated free and easily? Nights in crowded rooms. T shirts. Memories.
From the first moments of “Move Mountains”, to the last – barely an hour later – of “Who? Where? Why?”, Jesus Jones are a human time machine. Their career, as such, may now be no more glorious than a few nights every year playing shows in Europe for fun and a wee bit of pocket money – but that's not a bad way to have a holiday. But the Bull & Gate is not just another venue. It is the starting point for everything Jesus Jones did next : the first venue they headlined, the one where the band built the platform for everything that happens in the future, and to pay our respects in the suitably irreverent fashion the band requires by (largely) jumping up and down, singing out of tune, and pretending we are younger. More than once, I am told we are too old. But more than that, the music is too young for our bodies ; not our minds. Because what Britain needs is more Gastropubs.
Beset by monitor problems, Jesus Jones play on a tiny stage, for the first time, their entire debut album - “Liquidizer” - with many songs that haven't been played in public for 23 years. If ever. Presented as a whole, “Liquidizer” is a revolutionary record, like “Psychocandy”, a single slab of sonic terrorism where every song is an individual, and also, part of a wider whole. The sound of almost all the music I love, all playing in my head simultaneously. Some of the songs do merge into one, being in a similar tempo, style, and arrangement – there is little in the way of drama in sound – but are a cohesive piece. What is odd is the whole jumping-up-and-down stuff. I get the need to enjoy it, but being at a gig, and buying a pint midgig, taking it to the front of a moshpit, and then jumping up and down whilst wearing a backpack is just unnecessary. I don't want to wear your beer, or constantly be smacked around the head with your luggage.
It's not all bad. Despite being beset by sound problems, the band play a belter. At one point Iain Baker shouts so loudly with enthusiasm that I can hear him in the crowd. (Admittedly, I am down the front). Gen – drummer from 1988-1993 – guests on two songs ; for “One For The Money”, and the glorious rearrangement of “Someone To Blame”. Tony Arthy (drums 1997-2013) plays for the rest of the set, and overall, it sounds fantastic. Come the end, the encore is a greatest hits. “International Bright Young Thing” was always a bit slight, but the audience love it, and what more do you need? It's entertainment, anyway. “Zeroes And Ones” - the song that predicted the internet – folds into the glorious “Idiot Stare” as lots of people jump around and play air keyboards. The final song is “Who? Where? Why?” : the most dancable intellectual crisis of 1991 – and with that, Jesus Jones bide farewell to The Bull & Gate and its glorious future of keenly priced pub fare and lasagnes. Which is just what Britain needs. Culture, art, music, all these things are irrelevant. Cheap burgers must be eaten! Because what Britain needs is more gastropubs.
Move Mountains – Never Enough – The Real World – All The Answers – What's Going On – Song 13 – Info Freako – Bring It On Down – Too Much To Learn – What Would You Know – One For The Money (with Gen) – Someone To Blame (with Gen) – IBYT – Real Real Real – Zeroes & Ones – Idiot Stare – Who Where Why