11 November 2023 (gig)
15 November 2023
It's a crisp Autumn evening in Soho as we walk to the iconic 100 Club to see the much anticipated return to London of Jim Jones Allstars. Down the stairs to the venue, the wall's pores hold decades of music history, sweat, tears and beer. There’s a myriad of framed photos hung on every available inch of wall space form an encyclopedia of legends from Jazz, rock and punk and every flavour in between.
The bar is already buzzing when tonight's support band takes the stage. Erika and the Ravens delight the crowd with an inspired blend of laid back early rock and roll and country. Erika's voice, accompanied by a stripped back three piece with the experienced Simon Wild on guitar and Vincenzo Di Mattei providing drums, appearing as Ravens for their first gig. The cheers from the crowd would suggest this won’t be the last gig from the trio.
The main event soon arrives and Jim Jones throws on his guitar and walks to the stage edge as if he is returning for a third encore after a 2 hour set at Madison Square Gardens. They launch into "Cement Mixer", from one of Jim's previous incarnations, his Revue band. The Carl Lester cover, "When you see me hurt", is tight and raw and is soon followed by "Gimme the Grease" and "Devil's Kiss" from the newly released album, "Ain't no Peril". Recorded in Memphis, the record oozes the heavy air of the Mississippi delta and sizzles like a smouldering slice of rhythm and blues brisket from an oil drum barbeque. Jim, the trip to Tennessee was worth it, but live, the tracks take on new life. The tiger is let out of its cage.
Back to his earlier catalogue with "Burning your House Down" and then another doffing of the blues cap, an electric version of Bukka White's "Parchman Farm Blues", written during his incarceration in Mississippi State penitentiary, Jones adds a growl and a swagger to the bluesman's classic. The band steamroll through the set, bass impressario and long term partner, Gavin Jay and drummer Aidan Sinclair turning up the heat as they storm through "Evil Eye". As Christmas has already arrived on Oxford Street, Jim pays homage with "Santa's got a hard on for you" usurping Satan from the Righteous Mind's set staple with silver fingered Elliot Mortimer on piano, ensuring that there was no risk of Satan/Santa losing their “point”.
Carlton Mounsher, veteran 6 string gunslinger is a class act, knowing when to let songs breathe and when to fire the bullets. More from their latest offering, sees Jim and his gang get the crowd into a frenzy. "It's your voodoo working", though missing vocals from Nikki Hill, is still a standout song. "I want you anyway I can", is deep down and dirty. After an electric set, Jim returned with the Eddie Floyd cover, "Big Bird". It was a grand finale that left the crowd hot and sticky as they wandered home through a cold London night.
Jim Jones Allstars are not a revival band, they are a timewarp to a generation that lived the blues, drank the blues and woke up next to the blues without wondering how they got there and where's the nearest exit. Jim Jones is a human piledriver who feeds on the crowd and we were willing victims.