Idle Jack And The Big Sleep – Fibbers, 03/10/09

It’s the start of a busy week gig-wise, as I’ll be attending three in just eight days.

Tonight it’s a rare trip (these days) to Fibbers to see Idle Jack And The Big Sleep, who I’ve never heard of but Roj has heard good recommendations for.

Taking to the stage first, with very little fanfare, were Lost From Atlas, a three-piece originally from York but now based in Leeds. We started their set sitting off to one side, with a restricted view but were soon drawn to the main floor area by the stunning sounds coming from the stage. Intricate guitar playing alternated with finger-smashing chords. A small drum-kit provided some of the most interesting and inventive drumming I have ever seen – how many other drummers play cymbals which are resting on the drums? Or play the drums with cymbals?? And, it was all held together by some subtle but effective bass.

There was very little audience interaction. The band briefly introduced themselves about halfway through their set. That could have been after one track or four such was the change in styles during each track (“tracks” rather than “songs” – there were no vocals). Both Roj and I were reminded of Ishtar, but Lost From Atlas are more structured than them.

A few days ago, in a discussion at work, I put forward the argument that true progressive rock should always include a keyboard. After seeing this band, I retract that argument. Their performance tonight provided a soundscape which would fit any prog fan’s dreams. An album is due in November, with the launch at Fibbers on the 14th. I suspect we’ll be there. Very highly recommended.

Imagine, if you will, what you would get if you crossed two fine head-banging guitarists, one sullen bassist (who you might vaguely remember seeing before but can’t think where), one drummer who pounds the skins so hard that he is in constant danger of losing his glasses, a flamboyant showman (who himself looks like a cross between Mark Bolan and Slash). Got that? Right, add in a small brass section (two trumpets and two trombones, I think) and then a smidgeon each of theremin (link added for those, like me, who have no idea what one is…), banjo, stylophone and megaphone. Can you imagine what you have ended up with?

Well, the answer is Idle Jack And the Big Sleep and you can probably see my problem in describing their style. From the items above you might think “Chaos” and, in a way, you could be correct. Certainly some of the songs performed tonight were a little on the unstructured side, but that’s not to say they weren’t good. In fact, after a start which left me wondering what the hell was happening on stage, I found myself liking Idle Jack a lot more than I expected to. The performance veered towards the weird side of prog rock but, undoubtedly, it was progressive.

It wasn’t perfect – most of the time the brass section worked but just occasionally it seemed to be intruding a little into the music and vocalist Robert Loxley Hughes sounded a little flat and shouty in a couple of places – but it was incredibly good overall. The band was formed in 2005 and their relative longevity shone through in an assured performance. Yet another band to add to the watchlist.

Tonight cost just £5, a price I would happily have paid to see either of the bands individually.

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About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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