Arriving at the O2 Academy 2 and looking around to get my bearings I am struck by two rather surprising sights. Firstly, the average age of this motley crew of an audience being at least 35; and secondly the fact that no one is going absolutely bloody mental for the amazing support act, Cosmo Jarvis. They were fantastic, despite the lack of audience attention; their music was funky, their songs catchy, and all in all were just a very likeable band. Their rather male point-of-view ‘Problems of our own’ was a particular hit with the men in the audience, but other brilliant and often humorous songs such as a one about Sebastian the gay pirate, made the whole room turn round and notice this young, upcoming band.
After a gruelling 45 minute wait, being jostled by people pushing past with hands full of beer, the room getting hotter and hotter as the sold out gig filled up, and the ever annoying predicament when the tallest man in the room decides to stand right in front of you, the Reverend takes to the stage. The guy doesn’t need a stage, as we later find out; towering at at least 6 ft 4, Jon McClure instils a ‘you can’t ignore me so listen to what I have to say’ message among the audience. He certainly has a presence. The ‘Makers’ appear as a mere backing band at first, McClure working the audience up, persuading them to sing, clap, raise their hands, dance, anything, just to wake them up; to create a living body to support him through his set. As the Reverend kicks off proceedings however, it becomes apparent that this band aren’t just a backing band, they are key, and they are amazing.
Having worked the crowd into a frenzy, the band launch into ‘Silence is talking’ off the new album ‘A French Kiss in the Chaos’, maybe not the ideal opener, but the crowd certainly weren’t complaining. However, it can definately be said that ‘State of Things got a far warmer reception; the crowd went wild. McClure has it sussed though; he knows damn well that he has no problem with crowd support when playing his old classics, so he needn’t work them up. With the new songs however, this is vital. Introducing ‘No Wood Just Trees,’ he does this brilliantly. Ok so he may look a bit arrogant and self indulged while doing this, but the important thinks is he does it, so many bands ignore the audience these days, so someone with his dedication in audience involvement is rare.
Musically, the band are fantastic, McClure’s thick Northern accent breaks occasionally to reveal a rather decent voice, the guitarist and bassist are tight and the drummer (ex Arctic Monkeys) is an absolute powerhouse. But what really tops this band off musically is the synth and trumpet. Both of these really give this band an edge; accentuating the funky, ska inspired rhythms that drive many of the songs. The newer singles however seem to have less of that ‘edge’ being slightly more mundane, focussing on politics rather than clever representations of real life with political undertones. That is not to say that McClure’s political views should not be an influence, good on him, but it seems to be a bit too serious for the light-hearted, funky rock that this band produce.
Saying that, the well known beat to the start of ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’ kicks in, all thoughts are lost, and the crowd are bouncing once more. Singles such as this, and ‘Bandit’ are loved, the crowd almost as loud as the Reverend himself, despite being slightly waylaid in the latter by Laura Manuel, the Maker’s female asset. Laura’s voice is perfect amidst the deep grungy accent of McClure; despite not being quite as impressive live as on record. Although to be fair, that wasn’t the first thing on every man in the room’s mind.
The set continues at a furious pace, mixing the old with the new and accumulating the intrigue of the audience as to what the new album has in store throughout. All of the classics are played, ‘Get off the Conveyor’, ‘He Said He Loved Me’, and ‘Armchair Detective’ are pounded out in quick succession to the pure delight of the audience.
The lights go down.
The audience expects an encore.
No such luck.
Nope, Jon instead takes his acoustic guitar, steps off the stage, makes his way through the audience, out of the front door, over the road, down the street and stops. A huddle forms and after a quick fag, McClure launches into song. This is brilliant. The mood is so intimate, him making the odd joke or statement, the crowd laughing and the odd person saying stuff back. Despite the lack of a stage, McClure still looms over the gathering and the arrangement seems more like a glorified busker with adoring fans. But what a busker, McClure is no doubt talented and again his way of involving the crowd is admirable, for a moment you feel as though you really know ‘the Reverend’, as though you are a group of mates having a random jam. A surprising, but perfect way to end a very successful gig.
If nothing else, I hope you realise that you must listen to this band, their new album ‘A French Kiss in the Chaos’ is out on the 27th July and seems very promising. The first single from this album is out now, entitled ‘Silence is Talking’. For more information, visit www.iamreverend.com or www.myspace.com/reverendmusic. Not only that but you must also listen to Cosmo Jarvis; check them out at www.cosmojarvis.com or www.myspace.com/cosmojarvis.
Review – Gabby Smith