Monday, 30 March 2015

Jake Clemons @ Workers Club, Geelong 29 March 2014

The 18th and final show of Jake Clemons's 'Bittersweet' tour took place in a hole-in-the-wall venue called the Workers Club last night. It was Jake's first-ever trip to Geelong, a city an hour's drive west of Melbourne that's been losing jobs and prestige for decades with the disappearance of Australia's manufacturing sector. Even the venue was a bit of a shambles, as Jake was the club's first-ever advertised performer despite the building's ongoing restoration. The work-in-progress bandroom nonetheless provided an appropriate setting for a performer building a legacy that includes 'E Street Band saxophonist' but expands and gains stature each time he strides onto a stage.

The 'familiar face' barometer was much lower than the previous night's lovefest at the Flying Saucer Club: Maybe a dozen of the 70 people in attendance were Jake Aussie Family Members (JAFMs). The others were a mix of Springsteen-curious locals and what I guessed were friends of the Workers Club owners. Too much boozy yakking could be heard during the show's opening songs but by the time Jake, Matt, Brett and Mark tore into a cover of the Young Rascals Good Lovin' nearly everyone was dancing and shouting along (as shown in the top photo). If this was the last time Jake and his band would make a big noise in this part of the world, they went out with a joyous, sweaty bang.

'Ladies and gentlemen ...' For the last time on stage in Australia in 2015: Jake 'Jakey' Clemons, Mark 'Big Shot' Rashotte, Brett 'Sweet Cakes' Mayer and Matt 'Mustafa' Musty.

The band was in a groove as it played consecutive shows with Matt on a drum kit for the first time ever in Australia, but that didn't keep Jake from connecting with a crowd of mostly newcomers. During one of the show's few quiet moments an audience member's phone rang, prompting Jake to say it sounded like a 'rainbow falling from a waterfall'. I nearly spit out my pint of Cooper's. 

For the second night in a row the band was joined by Simon 'Bonzo' O'Connor for a righteous, Joe Cocker-style 'Little Help From My Friends'. At the end of Simon's epic drum finale, which saw Jake showering the drum kit with water and the others watching slack-jawed, Jake said he 'didn't see that coming'. 

Speaking of friends ... Jake boogied with Teachers for Tom Morello and all-time legends Mary and Piera during the previously mentioned 'Good Lovin''. 

By night's end, Geelong's Workers Club couldn't have hoped for a more soulful christening -- especially when Jake did a James Brown spin to end 'Good Lovin''.

Final bow.

An a cappella 'Carry Me Through' -- performed atop a table, in shadow -- closed the band's 2015 tour of Oz. Jake will be doing an intimate living room show tonight in one of Melbourne's leafy eastern suburbs. 

If you ever come across these three individuals on a deserted street in Geelong ... consider yourself one helluva lucky bastard.

No comments: