Reviewed by Paul Quinton
This was planned to be the first in a series of shows organised by the brains behind the Fusion festival, Steve Gould, AKA The Progmeister of Midlands Metalheads radio, and initially, this inaugural gig was to be headlined by Led Zeppelin tribute band Letz Zep, with Jump as special guests, plus one or two young bands, on the principle that, sadly, tribute bands often sell tickets in quantities that bands playing their own material can only dream of. However, Letz Zep had to pull out at short notice and Jump were promoted into the headline set, and another local band was invited to fill the bill.
Unfortunately a very early start time meant there was no chance to catch opening band Electric Raptor, and it was noticeable that several people were still arriving at the hall during the changeover after their set, which did seem quite lengthy, before Worcester band WHITE NOISE CINEMA, the late substitutes, began their set. The band are a six piece, including drums, bass and guitar, and no less than three keyboard players, including Ben Hiorns, who also plays guitar and sings lead vocal, but line up aside, this turned out to be a really interesting set. Their sound is an intriguing mix of modern rock, with a fair portion of industrial metal and electronica. Immediate reference points would be the likes of Killing Joke, Nine Inch Nails and even Muse at times, but also their ambitious song structures and time signatures gave them a progressive metal tinge, perhaps emphasised when Hiorns used a megaphone for a vocal effect and Tom Paine took his seat at the massive house organ at the back of the stage, which, let’s be honest, is a pretty Prog image..
The band finished their set slightly earlier than planned, but they were politely persuaded to play another, the insistent ‘Thin Skin’, bringing an excellent 40 minutes of music to a close. Although they only appear to have been together for a year or so, this is a band with the potential and promise to go a long way, and they will be well worth watching in the meantime.
Every time I see JUMP, I seem to note that they are consistently good and consistently enjoyable, and whatever the circumstances, tonight was no exception. Vocalist John Dexter Jones was his usual outgoing self, but in all the times I’ve seen them I don’t think I’ve seen guitarist Ronnie Rundle so animated, as well as playing as well as ever. The band played a lot of their more familiar songs, including the moving ‘Freedom Train’ and ‘Johnny V’, a song that could be about any of us, but they also mixed things up nicely, including an excerpt from ‘Blowing In The Wind’ at the end of ‘Shed No Tears’, and they also acknowledged the original line up for the gig by giving a brief Zeppelin medley, including ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘How Many More Times’ and extending it to include snatches of ‘The Spirit of Radio’, ‘Running Free’ and even M’s ‘Pop Music’, before ending with ‘Free At Last’, which John Dexter took time to point out, was the 1,611th time the band had played the song live, a tribute to how long the band have been going.
I do have to say that part of the band’s appeal is John’s storytelling, whether describing the background to each song, or thoughts on the world in which we live, which, whether you agree with him or not, are always worth your time. At this gig, though, there was a problem, either with the echo on mic or with the acoustics of the hall, in that a sizeable proportion of his talk and his vocals were indistinct thanks to the amount of echo, which was a pity. The band will be holding their 40th anniversary celebration shows next Spring, details available on their website, they’re such a good band, who deserve a much wider audience.
As this was the first of these gigs, and the line-up had to be revised at short notice, coming to conclusions about success or failure is unfair. On the positive side, it’s a lovely venue and there was some great music to be heard, but it’s sad that the crowd was relatively sparse, even with the use of ‘cabaret seating, something John Dexter Jones noted at the beginning of Jump’s set, when he said that it was never a good sign to come on stage and see such a layout. Nevertheless, I hope the Progmeister sticks to his guns, he’s doing something good here, and he deserves to make it work.