Saturday, August 06, 2011

Jayhawks live at the HMV Forum, Kentish Town

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.


ageing hipster said...

Shared your disappointment - there's a couple from Sound of Lies I would love to have heard. Thought the sound was kind of flat too. All round our conclusion was - great bar band, and a great bar is where you really need to see them...

Anonymous said...

Wasn't surprised they didn't play the Sound of Lies stuff given that Mark Olsen wasn't in the group during that period. Tampa to Tulsa was a nice inclusion from Rainy Day Music though. Crowded in the Wings and Martin's Song from HTH were disappointing omissions for me. Agree sound wasn't great and I thought the band (especially the rhythm section) seemed to be holding back all night and the set lacked a bit of fire.