Rotherham Oakwood Centre
15 May 1999
2 UP, 2 DOWN
What would have been the Encore:
Steve Hayes and Andy Faulkner  - JumpThis was the first time I'd seen Jump perform, and all I knew about them before the show was that I'd missed them supporting Fish on his last tour. That's not quite all actually. The reason I was here at all was because of the main band, Pallas, at this second night of the Annual Classic Rock Society Spring Progfest. Pallas have an Egroup which I'm a member of, and I'd seen a couple of messages on it from others due to be at the show tonight.  They'd either seen or heard Jump before and had comments along these lines to say about Jump before the gig (names withheld to  protect the innocent):
"Saw them a couple of times with Fish, the music was OK, but the singer......" & "It was more the vocalist using all the Fish circa Fugazi moves.  the only thing missing was the face paint."
John Dexter Jones checking the names of the Pallas Egroupor
"Saw them supporting Fish at Haddington last year and thought they were ok, although the one fingered keyboard playing was a bit dodgy."
"I think their music isn't proggy at all. It's just a weak try to create some melodic stuff."

This was all I had to go on before the show so you can imagine my surprise when I was so pleasantly surprised after the first couple of tracks.  I reckoned this was the best band I'd come across as a support act in several years.  In fact, with the above Fish references, it's strange to note that two other support acts I'd liked enough to buy their records had both been Marillion support acts, The Violet Hour and Beltane Fire. These acts will doubtless be covered on these pages eventually but here I'm supposed to to reviewing the Jump show so I'd better get on with it.

The show had been delayed (rumoured to be because Jump - who should have been the first act on stage tonight - had arrived late, necessitating Nightwatch to take the stage first) and everything was running about half an hour late, despite one of the acts advertised not actually appearing (Grace - who's vocalist had to work that day). I'm not sure that this rumour can be true, surely if Jump had arrived last they would have had to set up their equipment before Nightwatch. If it is is  true I guess it would explain the delay in the show starting. Whatever, Nightwatch kicked the show off with a pretty early-Genesis inspired set, including several ridiculous costume changes from their vocalist.
John checks Pete Davis is playing the correct chordsThe Jump set began with The MAN WHO WORKED, most of which I missed as I’d been outside the hall, talking to some of the Eyes in the Netters. The conversation was about how bad they expected Jump to be and certainly about the walking hamburger/microphone that we'd just witnessed as part of the NIGHTWATCH set. I moved into the hall, stopping just in front of the mixing desk to get a reasonable view and, hopefully, decent sound. The view was good, though the sound was a little echoey. The singer, John Dexter Jones, gave only a few indistinct words of introduction  before the chugging riff of PARADISE MISLAID began, and this is when the quality of the songs and music began to dawn. I’d not heard enough of the first track to have much opinion but now the melody and variation within tracks became apparent, tempos rising and falling to suit the mood of the lyrics. This was no average Marillion clone support band as I’d been led to believe, but something special.

A brief pause for plenty of cheering and clapping before the next track, BLIND BIRDS. It kicked off with a brief guitar riff before Mo's keyboards led into the main track which contained a mellow lyric and some nice harmonies care of guitarists Steve Hayes and Pete Davies.  JDJ almost launched into Delilah - “My, my, my” just before the end of the track. Obviously I was not alone in my appreciation of the music, the audience was pretty quiet throughout, listening to the music.

JDJ concentrating on that one chord!After a quick "Thank you very much", JDJ thanked Nightwatch for coming, "While I remember, a big hand for Nightwatch for coming all the way from Italy to play. I think Nightwatch deserve a very big hand indeed”. The audience duly obliged before JDJ continued , telling us about "the disparaging things I said when we played with a band called Marillion at the Mean Fiddler" which has "one of the most famous smoke machines in the whole of rock". He had "told the bloke in the Mean Fiddler the same as I'm going to tell the man who's operating the smoke machine tonight. If you carry on operating the smoke machine tonight, and I should have told you this before and I apologise, because I haven't done, I will personally widen the orifice at the back between your legs and there the smoke machine will live for the rest of your life, OK.”  Large cheers of appreciation and agreement from the crowd before JDJ continued “I don’t need smoke to make me look good, I look f***ing great anyway” to more laughs. While smoke may help highlight the lighting effects, excesses of it annoy everybody and there was a massive excess tonight. Poor Wiz, lighting and smoke machine man. He's only wee so I expect the threat from JDJ was particularly worrying for him.

Continuing the NIGHTWATCH theme, “This is a song about coming all the way from Italy to play here. It’s a hell of a thing, you really have to believe in yourself to do that . It’s a song called ALONE AHEAD". A quiet introduction built towards the first chorus after which the tempo dropped a touch for the verse, rising with each chorus. Pete Davies gave us some smooth slide playing at several points during the track, the outro section in particular.
Andy F and Pete 'giving it some!'
After a few comments about his jacket, ”I go round Petes house wearing this coat which I bought from a charity shop in Wycombe, to try and help the charity ostensibly, of course, not for the fashion element in it (laughs from the audience) as you can see." John apologised about his earlier comment: "thanks very much to the guy who isn't doing the smoke any more but is still doing a fantastic job on the lights. I really didn’t meant that, I thought I’d qualify everything I said in a about five minutes time in case anybody gets upset OK. “
Next on the setlist was "a brand new song. We’ve played this one twice before. We played it to the, em, dozen or so people in Wolverhampton on Thursday nigh, we played it in the Nag’s Head the week before that and we’re still learning it.  This features the immense talent of Mr. Steven, ‘open tuning’ Hayes on the acoustic guitar. I always though that made it easier to play but there you go. Apparently, he tells me he’s immensely talented...! This is a song which will be on the next studio album, it may even be the title track, this is The NEARLY ENDED WORLD “ A count to four by Andy Barker (drummer) and they launched into what, it turned out, was the third song of the set from their NEXT album. A mellow, acoustic start to this track, Andy Faulkner (on bass) and Mo (keyboards) adding a touch of colour before John arrived with some restrained vocals for the first half of the track. The pace increased as Pete joined in on electric guitar ending up in a fairly powerful, heavy mid section before mellowing again towards the end. Plenty of cheers for that one.
JDJ searches for that pint of Old Speckled ???? by Mo's keyboardBefore the next track JDJ had a few microphone problems, feedback from the monitor I think, before telling us, "I share all my jokes with everyone, sometimes it gets me into trouble, sometimes I get to write songs about it, don’t I, Tower of Babel. Not doing that one tonight" (it must be an in joke - which he DIDN'T share - as I’d no idea what he was waffling on about) .After some more problems with the mic he restarted his introduction without the aid of a microphone, shouting, “this  song is about a man who joins up, he’s in a pub in Nettlebed in  Oxfordshire, when a bunch of trooper in the English Civil War come up in a pub and say, "he’ll do" 'cos he’s had about 92 pints of Old Speckled whatever-they-had in the 1600’s".
“Hen” was the offer from the audience.
“Hen. They probably had Old Speckled Cock but you can’t say that anymore, can you. (laughs from aud), “If you said Old Speckled Cock now it would be politically incorrect, so they call it Old specked Hen because Old Speckled Cock was probably a reference to venereal disease, wasn’t it., (laughs) and Old Speckled Hen doesn't have quite the same ring to it." 
After that little aside the explanation continued, “Anyway, he’s in the pub and he’s having a few pints of Old Speckled  ... ", laughs again, and then JDJ spots something, “Sorry, there are children here, nobody told me. I just saw ...” 
JDJ looks for the Old Speckled fellowBig laughs from aud as JDJ tries to recover - “Old Speckled Willie ... and they come in and they say ‘Do you want a shilling, lad?’, and he’s so pissed he thinks, “God, that’s a few more pints” in those days, and he ‘s “Yeah, I’ll have a bit more of that, he thinks, and he signs up and his journey through life over the next year takes him to the skirmish field of Caversham Bridge in Reading,  and he ends up on Marston Moor in Yorkshire thinking “I’ve had enough of this, I'm off” and he deserts. This is the deserters song, the song about the man who has no cause, and does anything for a shilling because that’s the only way he’s gonna eat. It’s called The PRESSED MAN” 
Like a deserter the track raced along, slowing towards the end as the tale drew to a close, the crowd silent until almost  the final note on the keyboards had faded.   With these last couple of introductions I could see why people linked JDJ with Fish, the Celtic voice (albeit one Scottish, the other Welsh) and the rambling stories and jokes certainly reminded me of many a fun Fish or Marillion gig. It was around this part of the show that I decided that I had to see this band again - they were fun and played great music.

After the last introduction, and possibly because of the children, the introduction to the next number was brief, and to the point “This is the Monika Lewinsky song, this is called USED TO THE TASTE. Towards the end JDJ added a touch of Robert Plant style droning with "Talk about Love" repeated several times - a Zeppelin track the name of which escapes me at the moment. John congratulated the CRS on the cosmopolitan range of acts they put on, Nightwatch earlier and Credo from Mexico the previous night. "So this is a song from merry England. It's about the way we're headed with the dumbed down Six O'clock News for idiots" which led into a mini tirade
"This is a song that we wrote nine years ago and it still means exactly the same nowadays. It's called The FREEDOM TRAIN" It's a mellow track featuring Steve on acoustic guitar (and probably JDJ - I can't remember) throughout, slightly reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd. 

The music begins before the introduction to the next track, "Imaging going up to the bar and having a few pints with your mates, discussing bands or something, and a man with a balaclava walks into the pub with a gun, and tells you to lie down and close your eyes. And you're waiting for the band of the gun, and you're wondering whether you'll actually hear it, or it's for someone else?" This was perfectly timed to end just as the vocals came in to SHED NO TEARS. Again, it was a slow, poignant, track which held the crowd silent. Touches of Dylan's How many roads... included at the end of the track this time.

The Freedom Train live CD, available at the show.
"TWO UP, TWO DOWN" picked up the pace with a tale of life back in the Welsh homeland, the chorus of which many of the audience already knew. Not surprising if they'd been around for 9 years I guess.  "This is a little song  called SOMEONE ELSE'S PRAYER part the first" introduced the, again, gentle acoustic track, the introduction of which was spoilt by JDJ thanking us "for singing in Two Up, wants us to do it again in this number" and trying to get a chorus going again before advertising the new CD and Malcolm Parker's stand, "I've heard a lot about Malcolm Parkers stand!"
No break between songs again, only a count of "one, two" before they upped both the tempo and the power as electric guitars were again to the fore in TONGUE TIED - possibly also about Monika and Bill! There was also no break before 
"We've got two songs left and we're not going to overrun. And even though you yell absolutely, determinedly for more for us to come back on there's a fantastic band to come on later. We're running a little late, the day is running half an hour late anyway and we're not going to outstay our welcome any longer because most of you have come here to see Pallas. We hope you've enjoyed our show and we hope you've enjoyed Nightwatch's show so we'll just leave you with two songs and then we'll actually get off  and not come back so if you'd like to treat this as  the end part of our set  and really go mental that'd be great. so, effectively, we've been off, we've been towelled down, "  cue cheering for  "more, more" and JDJ went on the thank and tell us "It's great to be here in Rotherham, thank you" (as if just coming back onstage after a quick towelling).  "This is a song about a big horse and a fetish for wearing a mask. It's called The HIGHWAYMAN." This was the standout track of the eveniing, the one I wanted to hear live again. It featured some dual guitarplaying from Pete and Steve very much in the Thin Lizzy/Wishbone Ash stlye and worked wonderfully on first hearing. Buy the live CD to find out if you've never seen Jump.  In fact, if you are going to buy a CD make sure it is the live one - it really does show the quality and power of their material.

Part way through the track it was band introduction time, 
"On the drums, staying in the second division, the Wycombe Wanderer, Mr. Andy Barker."
"On the keyboards, making us popular with every Scottish act that we've played with, (laughs from a dirty minded audience), from the Barrowlands of Glasgow, Mo from Glasgow."
"On bass guitar, all set up for tomorrow's Grand Prix. This is the Hairbear, the man who keeps posters of Ferraris on his walls, the David Bailey of the band, the photographer, Andy Faulkner"
"I can't introduce Steve as I normally do because there are children in the room. Steve comes from Kent but we never call him the bloke form Kent, or the man from Kent, or the lad from Kent. We call him the ???? from Kent, Steve Hayes on the blue guitar."
"From South Wales, the home of Neil Jenkins, (and some boring ball related comments), Peter Davies"
"I come from Bangor in North Wales , my name is John Dexter Jones and I thank you very much indeed."

All that remained was the bluesy KEEP THE BLUES to round off an almost 90 minute set, much more than I'd expected. It's not often you come across a band you like on first hearing and, finding out that they are based near me was an equally unexpected bonus. Read more of my reviews to see how they continue to expand their repertoire. I have yet to be disappointed by a Jump show so, if you get the chance, give them a try.

After the gig comments from the Eyes in the Netters had changed somewhat:

"I must make an apology to Jump.  On Saturday they were considerably better than on the three previous occasions I have seen them support bands.  It could be 'cause JJB was actually funny on this occasion, 'though my money is on Wiz"

"and shock horror I enjoyed Jump even though John Dexter Jones has got a gob the size of Tynemouth and was possibly lucky not to be taken next door to Rotherham General with a rotating Varilite stuck up his arse (you had to be there)"

"Just been listening to the second album again and it's actually starting to grow on me. They're by no means of the word a 'prog' band. Some of the songs do remind me of The Men They Couldn't Hang though, must be all that stuff about pressgangs and Highwaymen ! As for my comments about JDJ and Fish, I guess if you want to be a decent frontman then you should be looking to rip off either Fish, Freddie Mercury or David Lee Roth !"
Apologies if anyone quoted would rather not have been. I will remove any comments if requested.  Doug.


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This page was first created on 24 February 2000. Last updated 30 Jan 2001.