Friday, March 11, 2011

Pyromaniac street preachers


All that's preserving Half Naked's modesty, I'd venture to suggest, is a nappy. These three punk-pop pups don't look like they'd get served for a sherbet dip without their passports. Even mildly encouraging this kind of thing - roughly speaking, Blink 182 with ill-advised ska breakdowns and Iron Maiden solos, and songs which labour under titles like 'Generation For Sale' - makes me feel unclean. But so uncharitably blank are the glares they get back from the few who are here early (including one chap whose entire skull is tattooed) that the situation has the grim feel of a public execution. Nothing to do but wince and hope for a mercifully quick conclusion.

As soon as Half Naked are gone, the swelling crowd advances as one, no longer viewing the fourth wall as ten feet thick. But even THE JIM JONES REVUE, seasoned riot-rousers and the band they've supposedly all come to see, find it tough going trying to coax them into life.

And all that despite arriving on stage armed with an array of musical cattle-prods, many of which are drawn from incendiary new Jim Sclavunos-produced LP Burning Your House Down (the title track being among the very best); some splendid quiffs; a bassist who looks like the lovechild of Gary Numan and Biff from the original Back To The Future; and a brilliant boogie-woogie keyboard player who attacks his instrument as though it's done him great wrong. Little wonder Jools Holland didn't join them when they appeared on Later... - tempted though he must have been, the evil gnome would have self-combusted.

As you might have surmised, The Jim Jones Revue have a bit of a thing for fire, and 'Great Balls Of Fire' in particular. There are echoes of Jerry Lee Lewis in single 'High Horse' and indeed every song of a 50-minute-long set, which functions as an open invitation to do the time warp and be transported back to an age before microwave ovens and colour TVs. Not only has man not walked on the moon yet in their world, the earth is probably still flat.

But what's so great about mobile phones with intermittent reception, self-service checkouts and price comparison websites anyway? Would straight-up, zero frills, maximum thrills rock 'n' roll like this, performed with a gusto not witnessed since the demise of Rocket From The Crypt, not be preferable any day?

They might not quite succeed in burning the house down - but give them some more combustible material to work with than Oxford can muster and I suspect they'll keep local fire brigades occupied the length and breadth of the land.

No comments: