Friday, 15 August 2014

Jake Clemons @ The Substation in Newport, Aug 14 2014

Night two of Jake Clemons's Oz tour took him to Melbourne's west and a venue that reflects the area's transition from industrial decay to resurgent residential area. What The Substation lacks in hipster cred it makes up in high ceilings, fantastic acoustics and vibes of a converted Brooklyn NY loft in working class Australia. The big room lends itself to a big sound, and Jake, keyboardist Brett, percussionist Mike Musty and opening act Hamish Anderson took full advantage. [Editor's note: All photos posted here have been scrutinised to ensure family friendliness, as Jake tore the right inseam of his pants early in the evening. We've yet to confirm rumours regarding women near the stage being carried from the room in fits of rapture.]

Hamish performed 'The World Keep on Turning' by Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac for the second time and I was struck by the image of a kid in what Aussies call a beanie, checkered shirt and skinny jeans conjuring Mississippi delta blues on a winter's night in Melbourne. His 35-minute set was hypnotic. 

Jake strode alone onto the stage with Johnny Cash swagger and debuted a song written in March during his previous visit with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band.
Jake's professionalism is in his blood -- Springsteen's legacy of marathon concerts was forged with Clarence Clemons standing to his right, night after night after night -- and like those kings of rock & roll there's no questioning his sincerity for every second he's on stage.
Billboards recently appeared around Melbourne announcing (warning of?) a visit by Courtney Love. It's a shame the woman who tweeted in April "saxophones don't belong in rock and roll" couldn't have arrived earlier and witnessed Jake starting a song on acoustic guitar, singing lyrics written by himself, casually picking up the sax, blowing a magnificent solo, and returning to guitar for the song's finish. One would hope she'd find it a humbling learning experience. But that's  just me being a cockeyed optimist. 

At one point Jake said "I've got a great teacher who taught me not to follow a set list." It showed. Like his wise teacher Jake not only began with a different setlist from the prior evening but changed direction when the mood struck, following instinct rather than routine. This, dear readers, is what separates leaders from lemmings.  

It only looks like Jake is serenading our table like a wandering guitarist in an Italian bistro.

After two shows it's clear Ryan Adams's 'Two' is a nightly foundation, and on this night in a brick behemoth with ghosts in every crevice, it was staggering. Jake introduced it as he did on night one, although on this night he specified its relevance to his uncle's passing and how it helped him understand how Clarence's "voice is too important, it can't be lost". For those of us crushed by the loss of such a singular voice back in 2011 -- and then blessed by the miraculous (yes ... miraculous) rise of a young man like Jake to keep his uncle's voice alive and thriving -- the song offers a poignant backstory to Jake's personal crossroads. 

After a rousing 'Song for Hope' -- another show foundation -- Hamish joined Jake at the mic to share vocals on a Joe Cocker-style 'Little Help from My Friends'. I hesitate to compare anything Jake does on stage to that bloke from Freehold but by the end of this song my face was sore from smiling, a well-known side effect of a Springsteen show. 

Jake, Brett, Matt and Hamish closed with 'Carry Me Through' from the middle of the floor. 

Besides his musicianship, the word heard most commonly heard in reference to Jake Clemons is "generous". He again spent time post-show to speaking with fans, signing autographs, and even tolerating photos with hooligans like Jamie McLellan. 

No comments: