Striking Matches/John and Jacob – Sage Gateshead


Striking Matches/John and Jacob
Sage Gateshead
17th November 2015

This was an odd concert for me as I specifically went to see the support act rather than the headliner. I’d missed both acts on recent visits to this venue in the last year but several friends reactions to John and Jacob meant I had to make the effort to get off my sick bed tonight.
With forty minutes to make an impact on an obviously partisan crowd; John and Jacob jogged onto the stage wearing matching powder blue suits; and before picking up his guitar Jacob Bryant opened his jacket to reveal a Newcastle United football shirt underneath!
Sadly the uber-cool audience; several wearing cowboy hats and others a variety of Nashville/Austin bar t-shirts, were nonplussed, with only a few cheering and a small amount playfully booing. Hey-ho; I was impressed.
Straight from the outset it was obvious that the guys had a game plan and weren’t going to take any prisoners.
Their first song (possibly) called I Come Through For You was a right Royal foot-stomper that soon had the SOLD-OUT crowd clapping along, and boy…..their duo’s harmonies were luscious and worthy of the Everly Brothers in their prime. The guitar playing was fast and furious; but it was the magnificently attired Bryant’s Texicana trumpet solo that really caught my ear.
All of the next three songs got two stars in my notepad, and Rock With Me got three. Unheard of territory for an opening act.
Now with the crowd in the palm of their hands the moustachioed John Davidson explained in their their early years everyone commented on how much they reminded them of the Everly Brothers (I thought I was the first!) that they have come to embrace it; and with that they blew the cobwebs off Wake Up Little Suzie and had pockets of Striking Matches fans dancing, where space allowed.
We were also treat to a new song; To The Moon which featured a delicious harmonica thread and solo; reminding me of very early Willie Nelson in places.

Even in their short set they found time to plug their merch like Old Pro’s, and eventually teased the excitable crowd before throwing a Wildcats t-shirt straight down the middle; only to be caught by a girl who looked 7 sizes too small for it!
The guys were non-stop all through their set; with Davidson dancing like a demented spider; his spindly legs going in all directions as he danced to his own songs.
While the majority of the songs were Twangtastic; what was described as (hopefully) being a single in the New Year; Norway was a lovely slow ballad with a tongue twisting but sing-along chorus of ‘Yai Oskervay’ (or something like that) which means I Love You.
The set was over all too quickly; and there were even a couple of calls for ‘more’, which was more in hope than anything else.
Sadly I didn’t have any cash to buy the album; but will do soon (watch this space).
Striking Matches appear to have been all over the UK Media in the build up to the tour and certainly seemed very good at what they do.
The ever smiling couple launched straight into a frantic version of Trouble Is As Trouble Does; with Sarah singing at 100mph making it difficult to actually make the lyrics out; but I guess she was just excited.
Next up was a slightly less fast Tell Me So; featuring Ms. Zimmerman playing what looked like a mini-12 string guitar; but turned out to be a cool mandolin; this song set the mood with Justin Davis’ first guitar solo of the evening.
Three songs in, and the first of their eight songs to be featured on the Nashville TV series was introduced; and Hangin’ On a Lie showed what clever and intelligent songwriters the young couple are.
As that song ended, we had the first of what would become an annoying feature; the ‘tuning the guitar competition’ which interrupted the flow of the set time and time again. OK, one or other would chat and joke while re-setting their guitars; but re-tuning after every song?
I was pleased that Striking Matches littered their set with both fast and slow songs; and for me Sarah’s voice was much better suited to the slower ones, especially the Western Swing flavoured, Saving All My Tears, when she played a ukulele like a guitar.
The highlight of the evening for me was when Striking Matches invited John and Jacob back on the stage to join them in a delightful rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Never Going Back Again (Thanks to Ian with his bat like hearing!) ( The four part harmonies were wonderful; but the song will best be remembered for John Davidson’s spellbinding harmonica solo. Never has one note meant so much to so many people!
Another that stood out was When The Right One Comes Along, also from Nashville and a beautiful song it was; with Sarah putting her guitar to one side and just be accompanied by Justin.
It wasn’t the band’s fault; but as I alluded to earlier, I wasn’t in the best fettle and standing all evening was taking it’s toll; so halfway through Justin and Sarah shredding their acoustic guitars during their interpretation of Crossroads I had to make my farewells.
A thoroughly enjoyable night; especially seeing John and Jacob; with the Striking Matches being good-very good; but let down by the interminable re-tuning of the guitars and long, self-indulgent guitar solos.

Striking Matches –
Striking Matches PHOTO-SET –

John and Jacob –
John and Jacob PHOTO-SET