To the HMV Forum last night to see The Jayhawks perform in their classic, mid-90s line up, for the first time in 16 years. They have a new album coming out in the autumn, and apparently the reunion is permanent rather than a one-off tour.
The last time I saw the Jayhawks in this incarnation they appeared set to make the commercial breakthrough with their single 'Blue'. They were supported by a little-known band called Wilco, who were less than memorable (in fairness their first album A.M. released that year gave little hint of the great things to come.) But it was Wilco who made it big, while the Jayhawks lost one of their two main songwriters and remained in obscurity.
This reunion would have once seemed very unlikely. But it is still very welcome. Last night they were in fine fettle, trademark sound intact and the harmony singing of their two leading lights Gary Louris and Mark Olson to the fore. The overwhelming majority of the set came from the two albums for which they are best known, Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass, released before Olson left the group in 1995.
Much to enjoy and praise therefore. The only disappointment is the virtual absence of material from the three albums released after Olson's departure. Nor was there anything from last year's Ready for the Flood album by Olson and Louris without the Jayhawks. Perhaps it's a tact and diplomacy thing within the band, so they are pretending the years between 1995 and 2010 never happened. But those of us who have followed the Jayhawks through their career might have wanted a more representative set (or at least I did).
But it's a minor quibble. It was an excellent evening, they played many of my favourite songs, the new material sounds promising. Who knows, maybe this time around they will win the wide audience that their previous work deserved but never got.
I couldn't find a decent clip of their 2011 tour, so the above from 1995 introduced by a very young-looking Jon Stewart will have to do.