Jensen and the Interceptors + The Old Romantic Killer Band + The Black & Reds @ Wolverhampton Little Civic – 19th March 2009


It’s a quiet Thursday night in Wolverhampton, and I have crept up the stairs into the Little Civic for an evening of surprises.

First out of the traps tonight are local boys The Black And Reds. Watching the two-piece take the stage, my first thought (“Oh, there’s only two of them!”) was swiftly trampled on and erased by the only other coherent one I had for the next half hour or so (“Bugger me, they’re a bit good!”). How do you describe a band like the Black and Reds? Loud? Yes. Stage presence? You have no idea. I think it’s probably fair to say I’ve not seen such charismatic engagement of an audience in a long time. Saying these guys are energetic does them a disservice; there might only be two of them but you can almost feel the constraints of the stage and the urge to burst off it – which actually happens a little later on but we’ll get to that in a second.


The Black and Reds are raw, fresh, exciting. Their playing and singing is completely in tune with each other – and I am sure you know what I mean by that; some bands are groups of people playing the same notes, and others are groups of people playing the same tune. You know. If you get chance to go and see them, go. It’s not often that you can stand and watch a band and think to yourself, there is something special happening here; this is one of those occasions. Closing song Witching Hour, complete with audience participation drumming, is something special indeed. Get thee to a ticket shop.


Tonight’s second band, The Old Romantic Killer Band, are, between you and me, the initial reason I’m here tonight – Girl, You Have All The Fun, is easily one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard this year and more than enough reason to be venturing out of the house in the cold weather. Anyway, I’ve digressed. After the physical energy of the Black and Reds before them, there is a sense of stillness, at first. But then Harry opens his mouth and that voice makes itself known; from the opener of Trouble Causer, through the raw howl that is Girl, You Have All The FUn, through to closing song The Resolve, with its sharply observed lyrics, it sears. Upbeat December Snapshots, probably the poppiest offering, is upbeat and bright, and thus quite a marked change in tone, but losing none of the soulfulness and power behind the other material. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how someone’s feeling, when they’re singing; so often it can feel like a simple delivery of words – that’s certainly never the case, here; and certain phrases cling and stick long after the last notes have finished. The album (The Swan With Two Necks) is out on iTunes and it’s worth a listen, and then another listen, and then another. Good news for us Birmingham types is that they’re back, with the Sunshine Underground in May; if you’re sensible you’ll have your ticket clutched in your sweaty hand already.


Tonight’s headline band are the impossibly cool Jensen and the Interceptors. I know we’re here for the music but I have to just…I’m sorry…I have to give special mention to the haircuts. And the shoes. These fellas look sharp. (What did we expect, from a band with a name like that?!) ANYWAY. Moving swiftly on. J&TI have a sharp, 60’s-influenced sound, from the jangly guitar sound and walking basslines to the pointedly retro backing vocals. There’s A Girl showcases the slick, polished musicianship and the great, growly vocals that give this band their edge. Other stand-out tracks tonight include the bouncily catchy I Only Dance For You, and Sittin Side By Side, with – I kid you not – bop-bop-shoo-wop backing vocals. Oh yes. Add in the coordinated dancing by the young ladies down the front and it was altogether quite an experience – wryly funny Two Left Feet, incidentally, wins for my favourite track of the evening. Anyway enough of that; J&TI are everywhere at the moment, with at least three or four local-ish dates on the MySpace calendar for the next few weeks (the first being the Sunflower Lounge this Saturday, 28 March). There are also whispers of an EP coming out shortly, so if bouncy 60’s-influenced pop with attitude is your thing, you know where to go.


Review – Gill Duckett
Photos – Andy Whitehouse

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