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Marseille @ JB's Dudley (5/10/10)

posted 25 Jul 2011, 15:00 by Paul Woodward

Review By Woody

Travelling to JB’s tonight I was filled with a great sense of melancholy, normally a trip to JB’s is like going to my second home, but with the uncertain future of the club the thought of losing the club is very depressing. Normally I have a very busy schedule of gigs in the Autumn, mostly at JB’s - even having several dates back to back and even long weekend’s spent in the venue! This year though, my gig schedule is depressingly bare with only Marseille and an upcoming gig from Danny Vaughn (with support from the greatest AOR band of all time MISS it at your peril! You have been warned!) to look forward to at JB’s. In conversation with fellow JB’s fan’s, it was well noted how many band’s who have regularly played and indeed in most cases been given the opportunity to play, have shown their loyalty to the venue by playing other venue’s - I’m boycotting more than one gig this autumn. I keep been told Leamington Spa is part of the West Midlands ( I’m not convinced, I have no clue where it is and I always thought it was down south somewhere!) and The Assembly venue there seems to be picking up a lot of bands who would normally play JB’s, and having that date classed as the West Midlands date. There’s nowt more depressing for me than seeing tour schedules have their midlands dates as Leamington Spa & Nottingham Rock Shitty.

It just seems that in these hard financial times, bands look to spread their wings and play different venues has hit JB’s hard and that can be seen quite plainly in the lack of named bands playing the venue before Christmas. Tonight’s turnout was heartbreakingly low, but amid rumour mills spreading misinformation of the venue be closed and with it been a Tuesday night maybe a low turnout was to be expected. Spread the word, JB’s is open for business as usual and will remain open until the owners say otherwise, and if anything the plan is JB’s will NEVER close as the current owners search for new owners to continue the name of this iconic and legendary venue, before they retire, and they are the original owners and have kept the club going for 41 years - through the good and bad times! Here’s looking forward to the next 40 years, and push comes to shove I will squat there and if they try to remove me I have a few tins of industrial strength super glue which I ain’t afraid to use….

Tonight’s opening band Operation Error if I heard right are from Stoke, musically not really my thing so this review ain’t easy to do. They play sort of Nu-metal type errr…metal, think Papa Roach. Although this sort of music isn’t my sort of thing I did think they were OK and they did have some musical moments that interested me. Not bad musicians on the whole, not sure on the singer though one song he’d sound really good and his vocals fit the style and on others he just went south for me. Performance wise there’s not a lot to say, but the band deserve kudos for not walking on stage and walking back off given the tragically empty room that faced them. The band thanked the venue for there hospitality and the opportunity to play, so respect! Although for a proper opinion on the band I think you need to ask someone aged between 14 and 21! Their set list included songs called “In My Hands”, “What I’ve Created” & “I Am David”.

Second support EXIT STATE also fall foul of musically whizzing straight over my head with their brash, modern and very British style of metal. A few people do come down the front for these guys though, and I have to say whilst it’s highly unlikely I will buy any of their music I really enjoyed their energy and enthusiasm. The small crowd didn’t stop the band from trying to shake the venue to the ground with the front man constantly getting the crowd involved and into the show. This band obviously tour a lot and their confidence onstage just show’s that they are used to playing to small and large crowds alike. That confidence is obviously most beneficially shown in their abilities to still play whilst rocking out! I think these may be ones to keep an eye out for if you like your metal! They have a great attitude and should win new fans with every gig easily. Their set list included “Break Free”, “Check out The Crazy”, “And She Said”, “Rock star”, “Lost Beyond Belief” & “Wasted”.

Now it was time to get in my usual favourite spot for Marseille, thankfully I wasn’t there alone for long as a few more rockers came and joined me down the front. I had expected a better turnout for theses guys, if not old fans from the bands original stint in the music biz back in the late 70’s and early 80’s then curious fan’s of guitarist Neil Buchanan who made a name for himself in children’s TV and mostly famously for the show Art Attack. To be honest until the band’s reformation recently I had never heard of them, but given the style of music they play I thought they would appeal to me so I‘ve been looking forward to checking the band out when they hit the midlands! I’ve been living with their new album “Unfinished Business” for a week now, and unlike the two previous bands tonight this is far more my type of ROCK!

Very much like their album Marseille aren’t big and clever or world changing, what they am is far better than that! They are a fun rock and roll band who just want have a good time, with fun lyrics and songs that you want to dance and sing along too! Obviously like many newbie’s to the band it’s intriguing to see if Neil Buchanan can actually play, as a well known face to many of us for totally different work it’s hard to imagine him rockin’ out! Neil has changed his imagine, he’s far more rock n roll and has grown his hair out, but the most important thing is he really can shred! A fantastic guitarist and he shares guitar duties with fellow Marseille original Andy Charters to great effect on many of these big riff rambunctious rock n roll tunes. The band as a whole perform well and the rhythm section of Lee Andrews (Bass) & Gareth Webb (Drums) provide the backbone to the bands big in your face sound and style. I was really impressed with Nige Roberts, I really like his vocals and he can pull it off live too. Definitely a band born for the stage in song and performance, a band everyone should go and check out!

My knowledge of the Marseille back catalogue is extremely limited so thankfully tonight’s set was very “Unfinished Business” heavy so I wasn’t bombarded by a set of songs I’d never heard before. Kicking off with “Wanna Get High” pure party rock which sets out the stall for what the band are about and how the set was going to continue was full on fun rock and roll, no holds barred! Amongst the set we got “Rock You Tonight”, “Raise Hell”, “The Game”, “Over & Over”, “In For The Kill”, “You’re The One”, “I Believe”, “Walking through The Night”, “Unfinished Business” & “Some Like It Hot”.

Whilst the audience wasn’t huge they were vocal and involved during the set, hell what do you expect it’s JB’s! Nige does mention it’s a privilege to play the venue regardless of all that’s going on at the moment, and thanks everyone for coming out not just to support the band but the venue too apparently it’s been 31 years since Marseille last played JB’s (seriously how can a venue with this history and legacy be allowed to close?!). Highlights of the band’s set for me include screw it live for now vibe of “Live Now , Pay Later” which tick’s all the right box’s for me with it’s insanely catchy and highly melodic chorus! “Rock Radio” also comes across really well live, Neil introduces the song as been about the state of current radio stations and this is their sort of way of flipping the bird at mainstream radio, which we can all agree is pretty shit. For me though the main highlight was the ballad “Lost” which has some killer guitar licks supplied by Neil and a melodic chorus to die for. Probably the deepest of the band’s material, which Nige describes as been about one of the band’s divorcees but he can’t say who. Which has Andy Charters’s pointing tongue in cheek at Neil while his back is turned to the crowd, which creates some onstage banter as Neil clicks to what’s gone on, which lead’s Andy to say “No, no one knows it’s you!haha!”. The band comes back for one encore, which leads Neil to say “I really don’t wanna leave this stage!”! before kicking into “The Can, Can”!

Neil obviously mention’s his previous job, as most people are curious as to why give it up and become a musician. He tell’s us he’d had enough and wished to return to his real passion of music which was his first Job before TV anyway, Andy pipes in you got a proper job now! Neil also talk’s about JB’s and the sad decline of independently run venue’s the length and breadth of the country going bump, due to big business and the powers that be killing off independent free thinking venues. He tell’s us we have to make the most of these venue’s whilst we can and when they’ve gone we’ll be telling our children and grand children about these wonderful venue’s and that aren’t going to have a clue about what it was like! This prompts one audience member to shout in a strong black country accent “JB’s will Live Forever”……damn right! Remember just say NO to the Karaoke Factor and keep real music alive!

A great live act, who perform a fantastic collection of dirty swaggering rock n roll. Hopefully they’ll come back to JB’s and a few more fans will come out to see this entertaining and fun band, because seriously you don’t know what you’re missing! Welcome back Marseille, see you on the road! To quote Nige “Were Still Rockin’ and so is JB’s!”