A good proportion of the crowd had departed the festival by this point and the audience is mainly composed of weekend ticket holders, friends and family of Gravity, other locals and the hard core Jump fanbase. I think turnout for the Sunday evening is lower this year then last, maybe showing a cover band as headliner is not best for a festival like this, or possibly showing the benefit of the Sunday headliner playing a set on the Saturday afternoon as Mungo Jerry did the previous year. (I have been informed by the organisers that 50 more tickets were sold for the Sunday than last year so I stand corrected.) A cover band as headliner surprised me as, apart from the various Haze offshoots and Keith Bell, most acts at previous festivals have written most or all the material they played. Maybe the hope was to bring in more people for the final night. Either way things looked bleak before the Jump set but by the time the Wycombe Wanderers set foot on stage, just after the UK Blues Project, the audience had swelled measurably. I fully expected the highlight of the festival to be Jump showing the blues cover band how it should be done, with power, precision and, most importantly, originality.
The set began with a familiar track, though one not used in this position since last year, MOSCOW CIRCUS. From a song on the last Jump studio album, Matthew, things moved into the future with, as vocalist John Dexter Jones (JDJ)introduced, "a song that will be on our new album which will be released in a couple of months. It's about the Internet and those who ply some more nefarious trades. Its called a BRAVE NEW WORLD." A simple drum beat from Andy Barker was soon backed by a gentle, vaguely echoed, twangy guitar backing that soon picked up after the first verse to twin guitar rocking care of Pete Davies and Steve Hayes .
"Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here in Hampshire where things make sense. We've sat in the pub with people from Wolverhampton and Oswestry, there they were (as a shout went up from a small subsection of the crowd) and doubtlessly some of you are from further than Oswestry - although there aren't many places as far as Oswestry!" Making the subsection both welcome and a little self conscious John continued with the tale of "a journey of a poor man during the Civil War, the PRESSED MAN." Again a track that began with a gentle guitar introduction before the pace increased as the tale unfolded.
The not particularly subtle digs aimed in the direction of a band doing less than original material began at this point as JDJ sang a few lines from a familiar song - but with a slight twist, "How I wish you were here .... going over someone else's ground." A rather clever alteration from "same old" and one that raised a few laughs from the audience and not going unnoticed by the following act. You'll have to wait for the Perfect Alibi review to find out more about that though. John moved back to the task in hand and "one of 2 songs we do about Bethesda in North Wales, this one is called ALONE AHEAD." Pete played some smooth slide guitar throughout this one, Steve providing the rhythm backing.
"Thank you Mr lights, that was most prepossessing. This is the second song in the..., I almost said trilogy but that would mean three and we only do two.... The second song is a song called Bethesda, a small quarrying town in North Wales where the world's slate was produced for many years. A bit of social history thrown in. Not bad for 12 quid. If you've a weekend ticket think of it as the end of a history lesson that began with the Cardiacs and ends with another bunch of farts ... This is called BETHESDA and if you're from North Wales you'll know what I mean." A second track from the forthcoming album and a tale from history instead of the present. One of the good things about a Jump show or album is the variety of material both lyrically and musically, a welcomed break from the usual pop fare of the charts.
As Pete moved from electric to acoustic guitar John explained "we'd like to introduce the ubiquitous and often pilloried acoustic guitar." A shout of "Horses Head" (in reference to the recent festival Jump themselves promoted and organised) from the crowd prompted the twisted retort, "yes, he does have a horses head, but he keeps it in bed with him at night." John continued "Apparently there were people talking throughout the Cardiacs set - it's a wonder anyone heard them. The older and deafer the Cardiacs get the louder they get. This is an acoustic Radio 2 song like a Rainbow (the band) ballad … hold your scarves above your heads. This is an optimistic song about what you should do when you get up in the morning, and I don't mean it like that! This is a song called RISE."
"Johnny Walker was going to play that on Radio 2 but he got busted for drugs. I won't tell you the story about the Old Speckled Hen and why it was called the Old Speckled Hen..." though he does and he also didn't tell a couple of others. Back to the job in hand though and "a song about why the people from Wrexham are so different from the people in Chester, why the people from Bangor hate the people from Caernarfon and why the people from Bosnia are on trial in the Hague called SHED NO TEARS." Recently disgraced and jailed MP Jeffrey Archer was made reference to in the lyrics of the song, "You do not represent me, Jeffrey" and a few lines of Dylan's BLOWIN' IN THE WIND were also snuck in towards the end. Probably the rockiest track off the forthcoming album followed. It is about the "Channel 5 B movie that's on before the Red Shoe Diaries but this is the Brad Pitt film before he was famous film. Its called LIKE A DRUM." The slow section about "your comfortable penitentiary was dedicated to "Leon Wilkinson who died recently" (the name being checked with Pete before the announcement). During the instrumental break I was busy typing the notes as a certain Mr Jones grabbed my camera and 'hid' it on the drum riser. On the return trip he attempted to stick it down the front of his trousers but the 300mm lens proved a little problematical so he gave it back.
Andy Barker is straight in with a count of "1, 2" before leading the beat into TONGUE TIED, and old favourite that has an interesting lyric about the sort of thing Mr Jones gets up to of an evening before the Red Shoe Diaries.
An admission before the next song, "I've always wanted to be Tom Jones
… but that's me dad." John explained his "I'm so glad you were here,
we're like 200 lost souls" inspiration by admitting "I was trying
to think what can I do for links when I though I'll ease you in gently"
to the main event. The following song was delayed for a tale of the
last time Jump played the Whitchurch Festival when John played an
acoustic set with Pete. It was also the day Princess Dianna died and
some chat followed on that subject and a short tale of Steve being
driven past the site of the crash a couple of weeks earlier. At one
point John was interrupted by some people chatting in the audience.
to say they suffered some hassle... "What the f@ck do you have to
talk about when such a good band are onstage? This is a song for Jeffrey
Archer and Monika Lewinsky called Getting USED TO THE TASTE."
As usual a few lines of other songs were slipped in to the middle
section of the song starting with a couple of Zep tracks in the form
of TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT and WHOLE LOTTA LOVE and some
Plant inspired moaning. Time then for the frontman to do his bit for
the other members,
number one benefited from being introduced after Andy F as he was
simply introduced as being "from Maidstone in Kent Mr Steve Hayes
As Pete swapped over to his Les Paul John noted that "if this was Wembley we'd all walk offstage but time is against us so this song is the encore." A drink is once again handed to John and the thank you noted that "you're not mean Tracy" in Southern drawl to his American saviour. "We'll do one more song for you before we go." There were calls for "two more" from the audience as 2 UP 2 DOWN , "a song about not giving into the pressures of modern day living" was introduced with the warning that audience participation was expected for the chorus. With a quick check that Pete was ready with his different guitar a couple of drumstick taps counted everybody in. Unfortunately Pete's tuning problems continued despite changing to a Les Paul and he missed out a complete verse while retuning himself. This didn't stop the crowd taking up the call of "two up, two down" at the appropriate points though. With the set complete John just had time for a quick"Thank you" and a prompt for us to "get your money out and buy some CDs." The audience wanted more but with their allotted timeslot filled Andy and Pete walked off with their guitars to mark to the audience the fact that they had indeed finished.
This made not a jot of difference and the crowd continued to holler for more from Jump. Perhaps not surprisingly they were soon back on stage, despite having finished the planned set and 'encore', for a bonus track. Strength of support from the audience must have been apparent backstage as back they trooped, guitars in hand. John noted "a light on the merchandise" just to remind people of CD availability and to allow Pete to try to retune either of his guitars. He still has gear problems but time is short so just a quick introduction for "a song off the new album. It's nor the sort of thing we would normally finish with but I think on this occasion as Jeff is languishing in Bellmarsh prison. This is a song we'd like to dedicate to all modern politicians simply entitled DR SPIN." A short track to finish and "Thank you, good night" was the brief farewell to the crowd but with an unexpected encore I guess they didn't want to push it too much by inciting more fervour from the crowd.
The consensus from both old fans and people new to the band was that they were one of the highlights of the festival and should headline one of the evenings next year. They may not be a major name but then again neither are Perfect Alibi, or The Flower Kings but they write good, solid, rock songs with interesting and meaningful lyrics that reach out and touch people. For this and over ten years on the road I feel they have paid their dues much more than a cover band and certainly deserve to be in the running as headliners next year.