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Jim James – The Roundhouse, London, 29/01/2019

Since I last saw My Morning Jacket, Jim James has been busy hammering out a succession of solo efforts, compounding these with his first ever UK solo show. Tonight we witness a busy 20 song plus stand at Camden Town’s wonderful, Roundhouse venue as part of ‘In the Round’. A stripped back set all chrome-polished and made shiny, incorporating a few gems from MMJ’s illustrious back catalogue.

What really impressed me about the very mixed, all seated audience was the total respect shown to the performer, no shouting out, no wannabe comedians, which has been a blight on the recent Neil Young acoustic shows in the States.

Tonight it’s just a dimly lit singer, guitar, rug and a little table for placing a couple of water bottles. Stark and effective.

For those who ventured further with the recent album, ‘Uniform Distortion’ and bought the solo acoustic version then you’ll have an idea of what was offered up tonight.

Certain songs shown in their naked and exposed form hit a thread immediately.
‘Throwback’, would be more suited to the guitar attack of the mother band still works well, ‘The Same Old Lie’ almost sounding like a rap at times. While the majestic ‘Here in Spirit’ tore the walls down.

I’d love to see this show again with a small backing band, then the beauty of ‘Knot Comes Loose’ would radiate, especially utilizing the piano. A second acoustic guitar or bass would really have allowed JJ to fly free. But there are no complaints from this writer tonight though.

Although If forced at gunpoint, I would have bellowed out for ‘Dear God’ from the Monsters Of Folk album which James collaborated on. But there’s a lot to choose from in his back catalogue.

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There were surprises too, I wasn’t expecting the beautiful, haunting versions of ‘Dondante’ or ‘Rollin’ Back’. Whilst ‘Wordless Chorus’ works in its more dissected form.

State of the Art’ was always welcome, and although Jim’s marvelous voice showed ‘very’ slight traces of end of tour show, it still ripped through North London like a wolf howling at the blood moon.

He was apologetic about the length of time since he was last over in the UK, and genuinely appreciated his audience. That’s alright, come back in the autumn and bring the band with you.

Tonight, I’m left amazed.

I’d like to mention that The Roundhouse do well in nurturing artists one of these being the support, singer-songwriter Celine Love. She has a forthcoming single ‘Rose Coloured’ and she set the tone nicely.

Photos: Paul Reno

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