Jim Jones RevuedFriends who'd seen England's Jim Jones Revue at the in Austin and New York City, and were instrumental in getting the group to come to Toronto, promised that Tuesday night's show at the Horseshoe Tavern would be one of the best shows I'd see this year.
The group attracted more than 300 people, which was a lot more than was originally expected — and probably somewhat attributable to last week's appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. While I certainly enjoyed the quintet, it fell a bit short of being the amazing experience I'd been primed for.
The Jim Jones Revue takes elements of Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, The Rolling Stones, The Faces, The Mooney Suzuki, The Sonics and Creedence Clearwater Revival and then turns up the volume and adds punk enthusiasm and aggression to a blended core of rock and roll, soul, blues and rockabilly. The band members were all dressed in black, making them look as dangerous as they sounded.
Jones, the former singer of late '80s garage/psych rock revivalists Thee Hypnotics, fronts his current band with and without a guitar. He's joined by ace guitarist Rupert Orton and a solid rhythm section of Gavin Jay and Nick Jones, but it's boogie-woogie pianist Henri Herbert who really helps make The Jim Jones Revue stand out. His vintage sound is straight from the '50s and sounds refreshing in this age of electronic gimmickry.
When Jones isn't using his roughly hewn voice to belt out a fast-paced repertoire of songs, he's pulling out the old cliche of pitting cities against each other to try and get a bigger audience reaction. He encourages crowd participation — with profanity — but I'd rather clap and sing along when I feel like it without instructions.
The band brought its own sound man, but what came off the stage was a bit muddy at times and so loud that it drove a few customers out the door. I was fine with earplugs, but it probably wouldn't hurt to turn things down a bit.
And it would help to have a few more top-level songs. The Jim Jones Revue's second album, Burning Down Your House, was released in North America last month. But the band's reputation has been built on its incendiary concerts, not on its songwriting.
A Jim Jones Revue performance is a great way to spend an hour. Whether the band can grow beyond that artistically remains to be seen, but it already has an energetic head start on most other combos on the club circuit these days — and sometimes that's enough to keep both the musicians and their fans happy.