Monday, 19 May 2014

DIGITAL WORDS / Carl Barât & The Jackals Live Review

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Photo by Laurie McShea

Thursday night saw the London debut of Carl Barât’s latest band, The Jackals. Having drafted his new trio of musicians Billy Tessio (guitar), Adam Claxton (bass) and Jay Bone (drums) – via the oh so modern medium of a call-out on social media followed by rounds of traditional auditions, it was time to put his new recruits on display.

Before a tightly packed audience at XOYO, Barât and his Jackals kicked into action with the sheer self-assurance of a new song (‘Victory Gin’) which saw the front man professing, “We’re afraid of no one” and “I defy anyone to tell me that I’m wrong”. It was a strong start followed up by another compositional unveiling of ‘Storm Is Coming’ which stuck  more closely to the chugging energy of Dirty Pretty Things rather than the punkish storm of The Libertines.

As receptive as the crowd were to The Jackals and their new material, they were still primarily in attendance to worship their Libertine overlord. As the spiking guitar intro of ‘Deadwood’ was struck any thoughts of a sedate, head-nodding evening were knocked cold out of the venue as Carl’s devotees formed a dense mosh. Other Dirty Pretty Things numbers, including ‘Bang Bang You’re Dead’ and ‘Gin and Milk’, sent them into an equal tizzy which then boiled over into an out-and-out frenzy when the likes of ‘Death On The Stairs’ and ‘Up The Bracket’ were given a run through.

All the while Carl mirrored the energy of the audience, thrashing himself around the narrow confines of the stage and often having to jostle for space against Tessio. Even a solo acoustic spot of the show was turned into a raucous aside as the undulating tempo of old Libertines favourite ‘The Ballad Of Grimaldi’ sped up to a fever pitch.

The night may have been a bit of a start-stop affair thanks to a few technical issues and just one roadie on staff, but the set list was expertly paced with unknown material nestled between past hits. Carl himself seemed happier than ever to be back in a band environment. It’s telling that ‘Run With The Boys’ was the only number from his solo album to be revisited. He clearly thrives with a solid band behind him and he has certainly found that with The Jackals who seemed eager to please the boss.

Based on this lone live showing it’s uncertain if chemistry exists between this new line up and whether anything more than firm musicianship is holding Carl Barât and The Jackals together. But since they manage to finish the closing ‘I Get Along’ as the stage succumbs to invaders and fans get a little handsy with Carl, it’s enough to be going on with for now. 

Written for DISORDER

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