added: 17 May 2012
// gig date: 10 May 2012
reviewer: James Ford
It’s late on a Thursday evening. A man is strolling determinedly up Pentonville Road, an acoustic guitar nonchalantly resting upon his shoulder. Behind him, a hundred loyal followers are eager to keep up. He knocks on a kebab shop window and with a cheeky grin mouths to a somewhat clueless couple eating inside, “we’re going for a drink, are you coming?” The man is Jon ‘The Reverend’ McClure, front man of Reverend and the Makers and apparent pied piper of the indie masses, and for him this is a pretty standard post-gig turn of events…
A couple of hours earlier, in the Scala near King’s Cross, a hot and sweaty but remarkably good spirited crowd eagerly await the entrance of a band who’ve been somewhat lurking in the shadows for the past couple of years. Following the release of their second album, 2009’s ‘A French Kiss in the Chaos’ McClure had put the band on the backburner to focus on other projects, but now they’re back with a mini-tour, a new album titled '@reverend_makers' due out next month and a keen fanbase waiting eagerly to lap it all up.
Just before the clock strikes ten, the band ascends to the stage and dive straight into their third-single, ‘Open your window’. Although not one of their finest tracks, the song proves to be suitable knee-grease to get the crowd moving, and move they do. There’s definitely something in the air, a sort of lingering excitement. Perhaps it’s the one part sweat to two parts adrenaline air mix or perhaps it’s just that most people haven’t had a chance to see the band in a couple of years, but the place is buzzing with energy.
The lively banter with the crowd starts, and it’s immediately clear that Jon McClure has a remarkable way with people, swiftly charming them with his silvery smooth Sheffieldian tongue. His rather subdued movement on stage, we learn is due to a recently sustained back injury caused by his beloved Sheffield Wednesday’s promotion to the Championship. Rev. Jon (as he shall hereafter be known) doesn’t want to let it affect the performance though and the audience seem sympathetic to his plight.
It seems like somehow half of Sheffield has ended in the Scala, and those from elsewhere are all honorary Sheffielders for the night. ‘Bassline’, recently released as a free download and the lead track of their forthcoming album begins and the crowd goes wild, with toe tapping giving way to some far more serious bouncing for all but the most foot-sturdy of the audience.
The songs continue to flow, with a mixture of both the old and the new proving popular with the crowd and showing, for better or worse, that musically we shouldn’t expect a huge change in direction for the new album. Lyrically, despite being less politically focussed, McClure’s sharp observant wit remains, the subject matter focussing upon the everyday lives of people in his home town. Breakthrough hit ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’ keeps the audience on their feet but perhaps now five-years-on feels a little tired and certainly wasn’t one the stand-out tracks played. Ode to Marmite, ‘Silence is talking’ on the other hand is superb and the live trumpet really adds something to the performance.
After the band wind down their final song, Rev. Jon turns to the crowd and asks ‘do you want some more?’. After the expected positive response he says just one word; ‘Outside’.
Fifteen minutes and a swift exodus later, half the crowd are huddled around the cash machines outside the Pentonville Road entrance of Kings Cross underground station, a familiar figure standing alone at the centre, acoustic guitar in hand, continuing from where he left off. A mass sing-along promptly ensues, much to the bemusement of the passers by and the horror of a lady caught in the middle whilst waiting for the bus. Following an impressive amount of time without intervention from the authorities Jon decides to call it a night for the show. After all, there are bars still serving and he has a bunch of new friends to socialise with before the trip back home.
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