Where the Bands Are (Jake Clemons, 26 October, 2019)

I always jump at the opportunity to visit London, which is a city I love. This time the reason was a concert. Jake Clemons was playing the O2 Academy Islington and my companions (both of them already convinced fans) were coming too.

Apart from the weekend’s main attraction, the plan was to gather on Friday, meet other friends (and fellow fans) for a beer before seeing the show on Saturday and then head home on Sunday with a late flight to give space for some sightseeing and shopping. Excited as I was about seeing Jake Clemons for the first time, it was also very enjoyable for me to observe my roommates’ excitement about the event.

And then there he was, the weekend’s main attraction! Walking onto the stage, the unmistakeable hair and characteristic glasses, all dressed in black. Mic, guitars, a keyboard and a saxophone within reach. Backed by Mark Rashotte (guitar), Jeff Louch (keyboard), Mic Geraghty (bass guitar) and Giancarlo Di Trizio (drums), Jake Clemons launched straight into Leonard Cohen’s Democracy followed by ¡Ayuda! and Consumption Town, all from Clemon’s latest album Eyes on the Horizon (2019), a strong and energetic opening.

The burden’s on me, but blame is on you!

Far from just performing the new stuff, the whole set would provide songs from all of his work as a solo artist and whether telling us about growing up in a military home, not to accept an abusive relationship or the decision to leave a marriage (was it just me, or wasn’t he just talking about getting divorced but also about Brexit?), Jake had plenty to say between songs.

He really delighted and surprised the audience when he suddenly leapt from the stage to the rails and also when he walked out into the crowd, to shake hands and dance with a lucky few.

It was clear that the audience in the O2 Academy loved this show. And it’s easy to see why. Jake Clemons is a likeable guy and an excellent musician, playing the guitar, singing, rocking the sax and having a little go on the keyboard too.

Regrettably, the show was restricted by a strict curfew and, as they ran out of time, Jake brought his guitar out in the foyer to play the last song (Eyes on the Horizon) acoustically. Unfortunately a least half the audience (including me) missed that performance as we were stuck in the doorway.

The show as whole was certainly to my liking. Jake Clemons proved to be a talented and tireless entertainer and the venue was ideal for an intimate concert experience full of energy.

After the show a small crowd gathered outside the venue to get a picture or an autograph from Clemons, who patiently talked to everyone. It was really lovely to see the way he connected to his fans, even knowing some of their names and personal details. Even I got myself a fan photo and although I felt very shy and, embarrassingly enough, tongue-tied (what to say?) Clemons was ever so relaxed and charming.

I hope to see him again soon, whatever band 😉

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