Jack Bruce, The Arches, 5th March,Act 24

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Surprisingly, this wasn’t a sell out. There was certainly a lot less people here than there was last week when we came to see Goblin. Tonight I’m joined by Shields, Rhurshach, Billy Bonesl, The Difficult to Contact Accountant and The Young Hotelier.

The Ronnie Scott’s Blues Experience opened up the festivities and I assumed that they would play a couple of tunes before shepherding Jack stagewards.

Flawless, but workmanlike, they overstayed their welcome somewhat (although their version of Junco Partner was indeed quite sublime). At this point, the sound was a little ‘bass heavy’ and I put this down to ‘Mr. Soundguy’ having left Jack’s particular slider settings ‘up’ on the board.

Eventually, it was time to put our hands together and on he came. A driving bass line and a punchy three strong horn section had the hairs on my neck looking at each other to see if they should stand up or not. “Fuck me,” thinks I, “he’s playing Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out of Tune”. In all the years I’ve been going to see JB, he’s never done this. Mind racing, I immediately fantasise that he’s going to do the whole of Songs For  A Tailor and, for thirty seconds or so, slowly begin to levitate, to the amazement of those standing nearby. The opening vocal line ‘When I hear that big black whistle they blow!’ comes squeezing out of the PA and suddenly Designated Driver, Bill and I all look at each other – the sound’s really bad. Can’t put my finger on it but somethings quite awry.
The moment’s gone, neck hairs stand down and my adrenaline level reverts to normal. I go for a beer quite crestfallen, on returning I find the sounds getting better but it’s still selling him short. Quick sprint to/back from the toilets and by the time the third song’s begun it’s getting closer to what it should have been all along. Material wise there were no surprises, but no complaints either, We’re Going Wrong, Spoonful, White Room all the usual suspects.

Tony Remy is a fine guitarist and his mammy must be proud of him but I couldn’t engage at all with what he was doing. I was reminded of another earlier JB gig at The Fruitmarket. Vernon Reid was all technique over feeling. Soulless!!!

The last song and a half, Jack developed an amplifier fault which resulted in a roadie crouched next to the amplifier in question doing something far too technical to discern from our vantage point. Again, it takes me back to the last time I saw him at The Academy and Robin Trower’s amp suddenly went on fire. Change your equipment supplier, Jack!

During the show, I noticed Jack’s ears begin to grow, I thought I was imagining it but realised he was slowly inflating them via a small footpump, on stage. By the end of the gig it was a surreal sight. Roadie couched on stage and Dumbo playing Cream songs. A good night!

Jack has a cooling, post gig, drink as ears deflate back into the vicinity of normality!

Jack has a cooling, post gig, drink as ears deflate back into the vicinity of normality!

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