After a patient year of waiting, I finally get to see Janice Graham Band live.
It was at the beginning of 2011 that, whilst listening to the newly conceived ‘Modcast’- a 2 hour podcast of all things ‘Mod’ with guests who chat about the scene akin to evesdropping on a group of lads after the pub’s shut, minus the slurring (mostly)- that Acid Jazz label boss Eddie Piller played three new singles, one of these being ‘No Money Honey’ by new Manchester outfit Janice Graham Band. The track stood out, and a quick visit to their website, and the cd single was ordered.
It arrived and was a hand made affair- the band being unsigned, but it came as no surprise when they were signed to Acid Jazz, by none other than Eddie Piller.
This led to the band spreading out of their native Manchester to play at Alan McGee’s ‘Death Disco’ nights in London. The first release for Acid Jazz, the dub fuelled ‘Murder’ soon followed, this and the flip ‘Assassiner’, excited me even more than the first single, the trumpet, delays and more upfront dub basslines, were to me an almost perfect sound.
So, after a year of asking when they were playing near me, they hook up with Portsmouth based Mod ‘n’ Soul club night Hipshaker, to perform at The Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea.
It’s a late affair with the club opening at 9.30, indeed myself and my ever faithful gig buddy Claire are the first through the door.
And it remains this way for quite some time, with people dripping in slowly, and I’m a little concerned at the lack of people- it is chuffin’ cold out though!
The music being played is a rather excellent mix of all things cool 60’s style- Georgie Fame, Archie Bell, Phil Upchurch, The Sonics, Ernie K Doe, The Maytalls etc. All with a backdrop of vintage film, Vespa adverts, 1966 World Cup, Alfie, Italian Job, Performance, Small Faces, Animals- you know the stuff… Quality work, Hipshaker dudes!
The band finally come on around 11.30ish, and the floor is sparce with a mixture of Hipsters for the Hipshaker night, and fallout from pubs for some later drinking.
What was strange, however, that on leaving there was a ‘one out-one in’ policy being worked- those outside would have added to the atmosphere.
The band- looking very young- plug in and launch into ‘Front Door’ and their mix of funky drums, deep bass and trumpet soundscapes, this seems to get the crowd more interested than they at first thought, and when new single ‘No Money Honey’ is played, the ‘crowd’ starts to get a bit more energectic.
Frontman Joe’s Bass must be as big as he is- but he’s the master, the complex bass lines snake with ease from his fingers.
Second single ‘Murder’ is played, and now folk are funking. It has taking them very little time to warm up the crowd from such a cold start, and this has a lot to do with the mix of infectious grooves and Manc wit. It was someones birthday- ‘How old is he?’…..’Twelve you say?’
‘Murder’ is followed by its b side ‘Assassiner’- I think the two would sound great segued together- as the latter feels like a dub of the former.
A cavort through ‘Robbery’, and then we reach the climax- and the best is yet to come.
Marching/Carnival style drumming, whistles and cowbells! Now nothing gets the party rocking like a cowbell- it just adds extra energy that you didn’t think you had, I can see why the band have been compared to fellow Mancunians- A Certain Ratio. Everyone’s now in the party spirit- it is just a pity the room isn’t a little smaller, as the atmosphere would be electric.
They recently played to 1000 at the Ritz in Manchester, there are far fewer here- with little promotion word of mouth works in their own town, but not so much in places like Pompey- a lot of people are missing out, you can’t blame X Factor’s Got Talent all the time, but it has made an impact on peoples ability to think for themselves.
A great set from a band I want to see more of, and you should too. They are support for Inspiral Carpets on their tour in March.
Their debut album ‘It’s Not Me’ is out Feb 27th- or if you catch them live, you can get it at the gig. I did, vinyl- of course, and the band signed it for me. Thanks Lads.