From Minneapolis to Merseyside, Jayhawks make big waves at The Kazimier. Getintothis‘ Jamie Bowman joined the fray.
It takes a special kind of band to recover from the loss of one of their principal songwriters but then adversity seems to have followed Minneapolis’ Jayhawks around like a faithful dog.
Emerging with a country rock sound just as the world went grunge, the Jayhawks always seemed out of step with the zeitgeist and when the likes of Ryan Adams and Wilco had success with a similar template, they were too busy waving goodbye to singer Mark Olsen to take advantage.
The acrimony that surrounded Olsen‘s departure seemed to fade somewhat when the band reformed not once but twice but having left again, this year’s incarnation sees the Jayhawks reconvening their post-Olsen line up as they promote the reissue of the three of albums they released following his disappearing act.
The fact that Sound of Lies, Smile and Rainy Day Music are not as highly regarded as the band’s earlier more country tinged work, seems to matter not a jot to tonight’s packed crowd who welcome Gary Louris like a returning hero when he launches into Smile‘s I’m Gonna Make You Love Me.
With the heat outside matching the atmosphere inside, the gig soon develops into a fantastic cavalcade of chiming guitars and beautiful harmonies which if you’re in the mood sounds like the ideal soundtrack to a warm summer’s evening.
From the Teenage Fanclub, Byrds and Big Star school of perfect pop, the Jayhawks do very little to displease as tune after tune of yearning alt-country spill from the stage with the band happy to dip into highlights from across their back catalogue, including Olsen-era tunes like Waiting for the Sun and Blue.
Despite, as Louris admits, hailing from the same home town as Prince and the Replacements, he and his bandmates are clearly in awe at being in Liverpool and a charmingly ragged cover of Lennon‘s This Boy provokes a mass sing along from the grinning crowd. Throw in a cover of Neil Young‘s Revolution Blues and a revival of Louris and bassist Kraig Johnson‘s Golden Smog days with If I Only Had A Car and Until You Came Along and it’s hard to fault a gloriously entertaining night.
As a great gig concludes, Louris and co refuse to leave the sweltering stage for a predictable encore, preferring to play on with the frontman clambering into the adoring throng as he finishes yet another spiralling solo.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ John Johnson