Jim Jones Revue + The Delta Riggs @ The Zoo, 03.01.2012

After a few weeks off from photographing and a relaxing Christmas spent not doing much at all, I spend the day finding it hard to summon up anything much in the way of enthusiasm for the first gig of the New Year, Jim Jones Revue at The Zoo. I caught a few songs from the band at last year’s Big Day Out and despite not seeing much of them, they were one of the standouts of the day and made me wish I hadn’t had chosen to go and photograph Airbourne on the main stage instead of staying in the Green Stage tent to see the rest of their set.

It seems apt that this first gig of 2012 coincides with me reading Simon Renolyds’ Retromania and a few days after the gig I find myself starting a chapter called ROCK ON (AND ON) (AND ON): The Never-ending Fifties Revival, which explains how the 50s revival started during the 60s and has never really gone away.  I don’t know why, maybe because I expect it from just about all the shows I go to, but I don’t expect there to be much of a crowd there to see them. Unless I know a band is getting or has recently had heavy rotation on triple j, I don’t expect much when I go to a gig these days and so I just assume that the place is going to be largely empty.  I guess if there’s one thing about the never-ending 1950s revival it’s that there’s never a lack of support from people interested in Kustom Kulture and as it goes far beyond what’s currently being played on the radio.  As such, there’s a surprisingly healthy crowd here tonight, a lot more than I thought there would be, although, as would probably be expected from the lack of radio play, the age demographic is older than at most gigs.

The lack of enthusiam from earlier in the day quickly dissipates as soon as the Jim Jones Revue take the stage.  They were everything I thought they were in the few songs I got to see at Big Day Out and getting to see them play a full set makes me even more annoyed at going to photograph Airbourne.  You could list all the review cliches but straight from the off the band really do give it the full 100% and play like their lives depended on it.  The energy and passion that goes into their performance is just mind-blowing.  It’s always interesting seeing overseas, and especially UK bands, play shows in the Brisbane summer and especially at The Zoo, a venue renown for its summer temperatures.  Although you do eventually acclimatise to Brisbane summer, or at least as much as is possible, for people who have just flown in, often from overseas as Brisbane is often the first show of Australian tours, are jet-lagged and have to cope with the humidity, it must a real test of endurance to then get up on a stage and play a show.  Sometimes bands playing in Brisbane seem flat and sometimes they tell the audience that they’re jet-lagged almost as means of an apology for their performance.  What’s even more amazing, or possibly just a bit stupid, is that the band are dressed up to the nines, Jim Jones wearing a waistcoat and guitarist Rupert Orton in a black leather jacket.  The leather jacket doesn’t stay on for long though.  Watching the band play you can’t but think about what it was like back in the 1950s when rock ‘n’ roll was new.  What was it like to be at those early live shows? Obviously the TV recording from the period, as today, are never going to be the same as being in the same room as a live performance, but what was it like to experience those Sun Records acts, or Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent or even The Beatles in their Hamburg days; John Lennon is on record as saying that the best of the Beatles was before they ever set foot inside a recording studio as well as saying that before Elvis there was nothing.  Although it’s hard to compare a modern day band to one from more than 50 years ago,  seeing the Jim Jones Revue maybe makes some sense of how a musical style changed the world forever.  If The Living End were even half as good as this, no one would bemoan them being in a prominent spot on every festival bill each and every year.

Earlier in the evening Melbourne band The Delta Riggs opened proceedings.  It’s probably unfair and irrational to have praised the Jim Jones Revue so highly when there some obvious retro similarities between the two bands, but whereas the 1950s never goes out of fashion, who on earth decided that it was a good idea to form a Black Crowes tribute band in this day and age?  It’s all ruffled shirts, wide brimmed hats, and Jagger moves. The first song includes mention of “the preacher man” and the singer even talks in a Southern accent when introducing another.  At another point he does the Mick Jagger finger wiggle and I can’t help but wonder if he’s watched the Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp episode of The Simpsons.  I guess if you stick with a musical style or period for long enough it’ll always come back into fashion and maybe this is The Delta Riggs’ ploy.

Although I get to The Zoo early to photograph The Delta Riggs, they band play in so little light that it’s just not worth taking photos.  It’s at this point that I decide another New Year’s Resolution on the spot to not waste time and effort to photograph bands who play in the dark.  So there’s no photos of tonight’s support act and probably too many of the headliner, but I just liked too many of the photos I took.  When you don’t have the benefit of a working LCD screen it’s very easy to go overboard in taking photos rather than be able to review what you’ve taken and know that you’ve got more than enough good images.  At least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

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