Sunday, 21 September 2008

JUBILEE at The Bullingdon Arms

(This review originally appeared in Nightshift magazine)

Between cheating death on the M5 and ducking exploding amps onstage, this hasn’t been an easy tour for Jubilee. They’re a band with an ethic: that despite the alt-rock goliaths involved – Aaron ‘Nine Inch Nails’ North on guitar/vocals, Mikey ‘Queens Of The Stone Age/Wires on Fire’ Shuman on bass and Travis ‘the new Lester Bangs’ Keller behind the scenes - this will never be a super-group. The statement pays off. By playing small venues and shirking promotion, Jubilee’s respective rock idols create an atmosphere in which they can – finally – get down to playing what they want to play.

Even the set, with a certain glorious petulance, refuses to be pigeonholed. Individual tracks pitch from gentle shoegaze to rocking Stone Roses: curve-balls sit alongside comfortable singles, and nothing here sounds like the day jobs. It takes three tracks to reach single Rebel Hiss, where sarcastic harmonies hold their own over a 60’s Britpop lick before dissipating into frenzied shreds and wheeling static. References flit past in the space of a tremolo – nods to the Beatles, Van Morrison and Eliot Smith. North pitches around the stage with the enthusiasm you’d expect a crowd of 80,000 to deserve; it’s infectious, energetic and overwhelming when there are a dozen of you.

It’s all over before you want it to be – the band’s sheer enthusiasm gestured towards a few more oddball covers, or at least a stage dive (although North reliably informs us that the after party is chez Thom Yorke) – and the band are off to surprise the next fifteen people. Jubilee’s tour is an entity apart from their upcoming album, which will feature guest spots from Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor etc. This is a small scale, EP promotion set-up: the band have downscaled their per diems and sleep in a transit van, subsisting on little more than their own enthusiasm. Refreshingly, it’s got nothing to do with who they know – for once, it’s all about the music.

Liz Dodd

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