I’m caught with my trousers down as The Jim Jones Revue take to stage – quite literally. Although, as I relieve myself in the bathroom on the floor below, I am at least left to marvel at the quality sound system Sound Control operates. While I may not be in the thrall of it all as they take to stage to feel that sizzling energy trickle through the crowd as the lights dim, to see them roll into a set opener for the last ever time in our fair city, I can at least hear every last detail. It is quite something.
As I stumble upstairs, several pints and pain killers mixing uncomfortably in my stomach as I battle the veneering presence of man flu, I am left clinging to the hope some vintage blues music can provide the cure. I arrive to a room jammed full of people. Sights now accompany the sounds and from front to back I can see bodies of various forms. From middle aged men and women, sharply dressed for the occasion, an aura of the 1950s about many of their dress senses, to the younger, hairier rockers and everything in between, it hits me. I haven’t seen Sound Control this busy in a long while. So why the hell are JJR calling it a day? It is clear from the unwavering admiration oozing from tonight’s crowd that this band has hardly turned off the M6 as a dwindling and dysfunctional relevancy on the live circuit and beyond. Tonight’s set is tighter than even the most devoted nun. They play every note with the childlike smiles of a group of people living out their dreams, their hobbies as a bread winning exercise. There are no cracks visible on the surface, no striking ailments to which we can attribute this band’s surprising demise. But all good things come to an end they say, and tonight we get to bade farewell to the nostalgic bluesmen shoulder to shoulder.
As I stagger into the crowd a man of about 50, so inebriated he struggled – make that failed – to comprehend the concept of a door and a flight of stairs asked me for some assistance. He looks at me, he stumbles through the line ‘how do I get out?’ and pleads with overwhelmingly beady eyes. I point him in the right direction. Then, at last, I am able to turn my attention to the farewell party proper. If that man told me anything, it was that tonight was indeed a party.
Jim Jones himself was fully aware of that. He paraded the stage emphatically, his smoky voice simply born to sing the blues. Watching the band, you could be doing so in any date or time from the 1950s onwards. You could be in a bar in New Orleans or Chicago, such is the pure sincerity of their back to basics, old school blues noodlings. It’s exactly that which makes tonight so enjoyable.
For a farewell party, opening with It’s Gotta Be About Me makes perfect sense. Never Let You Go then gets the crowd’s vocal chords involved while the one-two of Burning Your House Down and accentuate what this band do best.
It’s during the shuffling call and response of 7 Times Around The Sun that I find myself asking, for the second time this evening why exactly this band will cease to be in just a few more days. They will become a thing of the past, lost in their own historic, fossilised time period just like their heroes. That’s not to say time will simply forget them – I find that hard to believe – but you feel there is more life left to give from this band.
Killin’ Spree is raucous and the rattling piano of Collision Boogie would have had Little Richard beaming. But before you know it they’ve disappeared off stage, readying for the inevitable encore. Time has flown. As they wrap up the night with the manic Elemental, Elvis’ A Big Hunk O’ Love and their debut single The Princess And The Fog, it feels like the band’s entire career has flown by, not just tonight.
But the night is over, the band leave the stage and the crowd filter out. The Jim Jones Revue is dead, long live The Jim Jones Revue.