Tonight the Electric Ballroom plays host to the master and apprentice as Glenn Hughes reinforces his credentials as a rock god, while Jared James Nichols shows plenty of energy and promise, but still has a way to go to reveal his true musical identity
Glenn Hughes’s mission is to play a career defining set and effectively resurrect his solo career in front for his biggest London crowd for years.
And he does so with such passion and LA love that reflects a man who is clearly loves his job and who lives for the moment while giving us absolutely everything he has.
More than that, he has the vitality, the chops and a startlingly enduring voice to deliver in spades. And despite the problems with his last 2 superstar groups, he’s put together another great band featuring guitarist Doug Aldrich and drummer Pontus Engborg who push him to the limit.
David Randall has fully reviewed Glenn’s recent Manchester show elsewhere on this site, but it’s still worth noting there is a real vibe in the air as a rock god does his stuff and we all catch the bug!
As for the Jared James Nichols band they are still a work in progress. There’s plenty of energy - uncharitably called poodle rock by some – and a refreshing old school approach that includes throwing plenty of rock & roll shapes. But while there’s always something to be said for a long mane of hair, screaming guitars, rippling muscles, sweaty singlets and tattoo’s, they currently lack the kind of memorable songs to break to the next level.
Jared has a locker full of licks and real technique as befits a musician chosen by the Musicians Institute as an ‘outstanding guitarist’, but he doesn’t quite yet have the platform to make his talent resonate.
The LA based, Wisconsin power trio is smart enough to draw on great choice of covers that reflects their early seventies image, with both Rick Derringer’s ‘Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo’ and Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’ connecting with the crowd, but they should really have more confidence in their own material.
To include a couple of classic rock covers in your 45 minute set is a good way to draw people in to unfamiliar territory, but to paper the cracks with an over extended, lumpen version of Robert Johnson’s ‘Come On In My Kitchen’ is the kind of mistake a crowd pleasing 70’s, mid-west bar room band would make.
On the brighter side, there are moments of real promise, especially on the self penned, pulsating and riff driven ‘Haywire’. It’s the kind of song that benefits from sounding both new and familiar at the same time and delivers the best hook of the night.
The boogie inflected ‘Can You Feel It’ also connects with the crowd, as Jared indulges in belligerent windmill shaped power chords, intense note repeats and ebullient head banging before exhorting the crowd to join in on a call and response section to nail the moment.
Having got the crowd on their side, they all but contrive to lose their momentum with ‘Playin’ For Keeps’, a bruising rocker with some cumbersome time changes and a kitchen sink and all approach that includes the Hendrix ‘Coronation Street’ riff.
Jared though, proves to be a real trouper by overcoming the moment with the élan of a seasoned front man, to create the illusion of having kicked our collective asses with a song that frankly doesn’t cut it.
They are far better when they explore their spiritual musical home on Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’, a song full of bone crunching riffs and a snarled growl well suited to the band’s brusque approach.
At their best, the Jared James Nichols Band really do connect with a classic rock crowd brought up on a diet of high energy, big riffs and rock star poses. They clearly need better material, but tonight they’ve made headway with the leather jackets and their time will surely come.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos by Mark Hughes (MHP Studios)
Gig review (Glenn Hughes, Manchester, 29.10.15)
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