Jamie and the Jets are an Elton John tribute act, a first for the Boom Boom and a first for me. Now I have always been a big fan of Elton and his music especially that incredibly creative period in the very early 1970s when with Bernie Taupin Elton produced some wonderful music that summed up the times. Framed in the glam rock genre for much of that time Elton was always so much more along with lyricist Taupin, their music was exceptionally well crafted, intricate, complex and meaningful and it remains the music that helped form my likes and passion for the art.
I have to say I am so glad I elected to attend the gig because it was hugely enjoyable and the band took me on a nostalgic journey back to my early teens and as they worked their collective way through so many classic hits my mind was full of reflective images of my youth.
The guys played two superb sets that were crammed full of the songs that made Elton such a part of Britain's musical heritage and they played with an elan and ability that resulted in me forgetting this was a tribure act and I became totally absorbed in the music.
The set list was culled from the classic albums of the period, Madman Across The Water, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player and Caribou with a sprinkling of tracks from a few later works.
Jamie Bull adopts the role of Elton and frontman but he was so much more than a pastiche of the man, an exceptionally accomplished musician able to combine the role of lead vocalist and pianist with ease. I was hugely impressed with his twinkling fingers as they raced or danced across the keys. Davey Johnstone has always been Elton's 'go to' guitarist and last night that role was played sublimely by Dave Jackson, complete with trademark white guitars. Dave also played with a precision and passion that added rich layers to the overall sound. Tom Rowlands stood quietly at the back adopting the mantle of Dee Murray and proceeded to lay some smooth rich bass lines throughout while Michael David Bates sat behind the drum kit and took the part of Nigel Olsson and proved himself a drummer of exceptional timing and deftness.
The show opened in some style with the epic musical suite that is Funeral For A Friend and Love Lies Bleeding, a backing track provided the synthesised sounds that were originally played by David Hentschel, the prelude to some intricate patterns carved out by Jakson leading in to the piano and vocal from Jamie, the intensity and pace built and the mood and atmosphere for the evening was set.
Across the two outstanding sets all the classics were there in the form of ballads like Candle In The Wind, Daniel and the title track from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The pop pomp of Rocket Man, Bennie and the Jets and the Philly soul of Philadelphia Freedom were played out in their true spirit. Elton could rock too and the band recreated that vibe on the strident rendition of Crocodile Rock and The Bitch Is Back.
The virtuosity of Jamie was evident throughout, on the ballads his piano playing was soft and searching and empathic towards his plaintive vocals while on the pop and rock numbers his fingers became a blur as he cranked out the sounds in honky tonk style. The vocal gaining depth and power to carry it off. The same goes for Dave Jackson who wove pretty patterns of notes across the piano and vocal on the ballads. While on the rockers he carved out strident fat riffs that ebbed and flowed adding short sharp but rich solos all within the confines of the melody. The rhythm section of Rowalnds and Bates dialled in and matched the mood, smooth soft flurries on the ballads, pulsing grooves for the pop and rock.
There are two classics that I have not mentioned thus far and that is simply because they provided the pinnacle of the show and were played during the first encore. Your Song was dedicated to the crowd by Jamie and it was quite simply beautiful. Jamie's soft vocal the leading light drawing along some deft piano, subtle rhytms and equally deft work from Jackson. At this point, this being a favourite of mine, I simply closed my eyes and let myself drift on the melody. And then the juxtaposition of the aggressive rock anthem of Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting. A terrace chant if ever there was one and carried off in some style by the guys in the band. Hooked up hard riffs from Jamie and Dave in tandem while the backline carved out the groove. A chance for the band to really cut loose and enjoy themselves and a chance for us in the crowd to respond to Jamie's invitation to join in with the chorus and some handclaps.
The band went down so well and we had such a great time that a second encore was demanded and delivered and came in the form of some tradtional rock'n' roll as the band cranked out Your Sister Can't Twist But She Can Rock 'n' Roll. -
Review by Nigel Foster
When I was a baby, I would have cooed along to Baa Baa Black Sheep. Jamie Bull of Jamie and the Jets was obviously rocking his cradle to the sounds of Reg Dwight's back catalogue. I blame the parents.
At their inaugural gig at Sutton's Boom Boom club (I saw no sign of Basil Brush), Jamie and his Jets poured out hit after hit from Elton John's extensive and eclectic back catalogue across two dazzling sets. It may seem unusual for a 27-year-old South Londoner (dangerous age that as Messrs Joplin, Hendrix and Morrison would like to be able to testify) to be playing songs from an artist who had produced his best work years before he was born. But the obvious passion and talent showed across a string of well known hits.
Dressed in suitably sequined apparel and classy boater, Jamie Bull fronted the four piece with all the showmanship you would expect of a tribute act to the least shrunk violet of the 1970's all too glam scene. But whilst showy, it was neither brash nor boorish, just the right amount of pizazz with jazz. Ably accompanying Jamie Bull was guitarist and all round technical guru Dave Jackson. Sporting comparatively subdued black attire with striking white guitars, Dave provided the rocking edge that lifted the good old fashioned rock and roll numbers from the beautiful ballads whilst also the architect of the backing tracks that complimented the four musicians rather than becoming the focus of the sound. Dave can tear it up when he wants to but it was nice to see a restrained guitarist providing just the right level of virtuosity without trying to take over the limelight.
On bass in similar dark garb was Tom Rowlands, quietly but expertly providing the strong bass line, whilst leaving the front of stage antics to Jamie and Dave. Often unsung, usually unappreciated, the bass player provides that strong rhythmic vibe that allows the lead artists to showcase their skills whilst holding the melody together. Just so here, Mr R looked like the assured patriarch of the group minding his fledglings.
And last, but certainly not least, drummer Michael Bates did sterling work despite an arm injury. Not that you would have known, as the beat was flawless. As was the song count in's both English and German versions... As the two sets developed, so did the tempo so any RSI issues had to be put on hold.
The first set was opened by the epic Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding which gave the crowd a taste of what was to come. And the crowd loved it. As the tempo increased, JB divested himself of his sparkly bow tie and obligatory shades to show the final finished product of years of practice playing his favourite piano rock. This was a polished performance - strong vocals, cheeky grin and affable banter - here is an artist in his prime and in his element. The poignant track 'Empty Garden', a tribute to John Lennon, showed how you don't just have to play the well known hits to enrapture an audience. Enraptured we were.
The second set cranked out more hits - I had forgotten how many great Elton John songs I know and love - with the crowd responding to the upbeat treats. Ending with two encores - and real encores, not your common all garden walk off, walk back on again variety - this was very much a triumph for the band. New additions to the Pete Feenstra circuit, treading the same boards as the likes of Walter Trout and Joanne Shaw Taylor, it won't be long before Jamie and the Jets will be following in those footsteps. For now, keep an eye out for their next gig near to you. Because, in Elton's own words 'The Bitch Is Back'
Review by Mothers Ruin Music