Jumping Hot Club at Live Theatre.
11th July 2017
I’m still struggling to get to as many gigs as I should; and what with me being head over heels in love with Will Hoge’s new album ANCHORS (released August), it meant I was still a tad weary as I made my way along Newcastle Quayside following a 5.30 am start that morning.
The gig was originally meant to be in the upstairs 60 seat room as it Sold Out in 72 hours; so was transferred downstairs to the very much larger main theatre which was only a few ‘bums on seats’ short of capacity.
The dapperly dressed Hans Chew opened the show with Power of a Barren Fantasy (?); a powerfully intense and articulate song coupled with lots of jagged guitar.
As the loud applause died down Chew took a deep breath and then forced each word of You Have The Answer out through gritted teeth and the occasional howl!!
I’d not heard of Hans Chew prior to tonight; but when he took his place in the spotlight at the piano for a couple of songs I had visions of a young Randy Newman in New York City 40 years ago.
In my notes for the 30 minute set I have ‘challenging’ and ‘interesting’ written three times each; which probably sums up Hans’ very well received set; and I look forward to his album that is due out in the Autumn.
Oh dear…..when the lights went up the people to my left decided on a drinks/toilet run, and it was very apparent that drink had already been taken earlier in the evening from their giggling and stumbling as the men made their way past. A minute later the poshest women I’ve ever spoke to tapped my camera and asked ‘was I with a newspaper?’ I lied and said ‘yes’ as it was evident the truth would go right over her head; especially when she went to great lengths to explain that tonight was part of a week of ‘culture’ which basically meant they’d been to see Elbow and Billy Ocean at a local Festival as VIP guests the previous weekend but probably preferred Classical music…..cue me running to the safety of the toilets.
When I returned they were discussing the poor quality of the wine and didn’t notice me.
In the rest of the room there was a palpable frisson of excitement in the room as Will Hoge walked on stage in the darkness and with no intro and with the lights still off launched into a passionate story of teenage angst, Tail Light Town which was greeted with a huge roar when it ended.
As he retuned the guitar Hoge introduced himself and explained his wife and kids were accompanying him on this tour; but were already bored with his shows so were back in the hotel.
He then told the first of a series of very funny self-depreciating stories to introduce Daddy Was a Gambler……. “She counts her blessings/He counts his cards,” is 100% pure damn Country in my book.
During the third song, the blood-and-guts On The Outside Looking In with soul stirring harmonica interludes you could actually hear a pin drop as everyone hung on every single word.
It was apparent that the first six or seven songs were already well known to the majority of the Jumping Hot Club audience (but not me nor my posh neighbours) but such was the quality of Will Hoge’s writing; they still sounded like I’d known them all my life.
As a consummate professional Hoge didn’t introduce songs from ANCHORS until 7 in; when we were informed that the ruggedly beautiful Missing You was brought about via his wife seeing something on You Tube that had been posted and subsequently misinterpreting. It’s a very funny story that I won’t spoil by repeating here.
After an hour or so I found myself smiling as in the half light, the singer in ‘double denim’ crouched over the microphone and looked a lot like Deacon from the Nashville TV series! Another note; which I can’t quantify was that there a magic to this performance that had hints of Asbury Park era Bruce.
Highlights were many from start to finish; with the story leading up to and the actual tongue-in-cheek Jesus Came to Tennessee which had the posh woman next to me snorting like a stuck pig; so much so the turn even mentioned her at the end.
One of my favourite songs on ANCHORS; 17 was a stand out tonight too; with the back story of his kids starting a Garage Band kick starting his own career a year or so ago. Check it out; especially if there’s a You Tube clip with the ‘story’.
I wasn’t aware of it; but the rest of the audience were but Will Hoge wrote a hit song for the Lady Antebellums! Who knew? Kept to the back end of the concert Better When You’re Gone really, really is quite the doozy.
The showman in Will Hoge really came to the fore when he explained why he wouldn’t be doing an ‘encore’ but the next song would be the ‘encore’ without him actually going through the charade oif leaving the stage….top man!