Eskimo Joe + Jersey Budd @ The Rainbow, Birmingham – 6th April 2009

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A quiet Monday night in a small suburb of Birmingham, in a pub full of football fans doesn’t necessarily evoke images of a great rock n roll evening. It was here however – in the Rainbow Digbeth – that Jersey Budd, Leicester’s fresh new talent, hit the stage to treat the largely Antipodian audience to a bagful of great new tunes.

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“Visions of you” was his opening gambit – a jolly, bouncy, catchy number, which not only was an opening track, but also a statement of intent from the Leicester singer songwriter. It very much set the tempo for the remainder of the evening.

What instantly became apparent from the moment that Jersey swaggered his way on to the stage, is that’s he’s got an inimitable presence and really is at ease in front of a crowd armed with either of his weapons of choice; his telecaster or acoustic guitar.

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He then powered his way through a plethora of ‘soon to be hits’ with a Weller-like ‘guitar flicks’ (you know the ones) and a young Paul Rogers type vocal.

Jersey is drawing plaudits from the likes of Noel Gallagher and the Modfather Paul Weller himself, and is being compared to the likes of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. Praise indeed, but not undeserved. It looks like it’s going to be a long and propserous career for the ex-plumber come good.

‘She came back to me’ was the stand out track from his new album and again was perfectly performed by Jersey and his tight band of musicians, all of whom are well versed in their respective craft. It’s got one of those really catchy – nay even addictive – melodies, which once you’ve heard once, you’ll be humming it over and over. Trust me, I know!

Jersey Budd is very much being tipped as one to watch for 2009, and on this performance you can very much see why. Wonderlands – Jersey Budds debut album is out on 11th May.

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For a band that easily sell out 1500-capacity venues in their homeland of Australia and have a string of huge hits under their belt, it must be something of a reality check to find themselves playing to an intimate crowd in the backroom of a Digbeth pub! But Eskimo Joe take it in their stride and treat those in attendance to a well crafted set of radio-friendly pop-rock with the occasional dark undertones being juxtaposed with super-catchy singalong choruses.

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Daringly, they kick off with new (and as yet unreleased) single “Foreign Lands” which sees the band’s sound develop further into complex arrangements while still retaining the band’s trademark piano-laden melodies. The menacing “Black Fingernails, Red Wine” shows a darker side, both musically and lyrically but still has the girls in front of the stage dancing and singing along. “London Bombs” takes things down a notch and has that edginess which keeps Eskimo Joe from being an all-out pop band.

At one point Joel moves from playing bass guitar to keyboards before finally helping out on drums, and it’s certainly true that all members of the band are highly accomplished musicians.

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An encore of the epic “How Does It Feel” and closer “From The Sea” guarantees that everyone here goes home suitably impressed, having witnessed a band who do what they do with a great deal of style and slickness. Check out Eskimo Joe’s Myspace Page for more..

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Review – Zak Edwards (Jersey Budd) and Steve Gerrard (Eskimo Joe)
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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