The Jayhawks - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 02/09/2016 1

The Jayhawks – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 02/09/2016

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT – in Game Of Thrones, of course, Renly Baratheon is killed by a shadow bearing the face of his brother Stannis, sent from afar, having being conceived by his sibling and flame-haired fire mistress Melisandre.  Now, I don’t know whether Neil Young has any particular beef with the people of Leeds, or indeed if he has been dabbling in the dark stuff as a precursor to whatever he’s planning next.  But one thing’s for sure – the great man’s own shadow hangs heavy over the Brudenell Social Club tonight, even to the extent that God Is In The TV’s immaculate lensman Paul Reno, rather unnervingly, has started to resemble him physically.  Even the pre-show music, in fact, was Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

The Brudenell Social Club itself is a lovely, friendly venue, a real throwback to the heady old days when the UK’s live music scene was at its healthiest; one side of the building is decorated in an authentic pub vogue, with a games room here and trivia quiz machines there, while at the front, bands ply their trade in front of a 400 capacity crowd.  Its modest nuance is all part of its charm, but with a set-up as intimate as this, you’d better make sure you’re capable of delivering the goods.  The Jayhawks, however, are more than capable of merely delivering the goods; quite simply they are outstanding.

As an added bonus, support this evening comes from Ethan Johns, son of the celebrated Glyn Johns, but also a formidable producer and musician in his own right.  Tonight, he is with his band The Black Eyed Dogs, and after beginning with a Gillian Welch penned song (“it should be compulsory for bands to begin with a Gillian Welch song,” according to Johns), the band played an utterly flawless set that often evoked memories of, yes, you guessed it, Neil Young, perhaps even Creedence at times.  Quite rightly, the sell-out audience lapped it up and gave them a thoroughly deserved ovation.

Ethan Johns

So to The Jayhawks then, never a band to shy away from wearing their influences on their sleeves, having cited ole Shakey’s music in interviews on several occasions as a key element in their inception.  It shows, yet luckily enough of their own character shines through for them never to have sounded like a lazy, poor man’s imitation.

Opening, as they have for practically the whole tour – or at least the last two months of it – with Hollywood Town Hall‘s startlingly brilliant ‘Waiting For The Sun‘, tonight’s set focuses largely on the band’s recently released ninth studio album, Paging Mr. Proust, and few folk would begrudge them this honour, for not only is it one of the finest long-players in their canon, it is also right up there with the very best albums of 2016.

They don’t move a great deal on stage, The Jayhawks if truth be told, but where this band is concerned, such frivolities are somewhat inconsequential.  All this serves to highlight is what remarkable musicians Gary Louris and his bandmates truly are.  The next couple of hours were spent in the company of songs that felt like old friends, cherry-picked from the band’s impressive back catalogue, and a fully satisfied throng of folk wearing t-shirts bearing images of, yes, Neil Young, made their way to the exits with cartoon-like Cheshire cat grins etched firmly on their faces.  It was a glorious day all round, full of sunshine and smiles on what just might have been the last perfect day of the year.  After all, Winter is coming…

Photo Credit: Paul Reno.

Paging Mr. Proust is out now on Thirty Tigers/Sham Records.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.