Live: Jezabels/Josef Salvat at Scala, London

Playing to a crowd warmed up by the debonair Josef Salvat, the Jezabels say thank you to London for their recording residence with a faultless show featuring scorching new material.

First, Salvat. Wow. What an entrance. Flanked by shoeless drummer and heavily-bearded rhythm monster on bass, the elegantly attired singer was an instant sensation. Whatever the opening song was called it was electric and he showed off a range of slippery, Elvis and Jacko-quoting dance moves. “Hustler” was in there and strongly-delivered and he closed his set with the double-whammy of “Every Night” and “Till I Found You”.  If there is anything I would change it’s probably only that he can seem a little one-paced at times. If that opening number is anything to go by, he’s got the skills to go a little faster, a little groovier, and really get the crowd hopping.

After a spot of rearranging the Jezabels arrived and they put not a foot wrong then or thereafter. Guitarist Sam Lockwood wrung those luscious notes out all night long and was the essence of politeness. With a cheery and uncomplicated “thanks a lot!” after every song he seemed genuinely delighted to be there and sincerely appreciative of the opportunity and our response. Drummer Nik Kaloper was mainly hidden from (my) view but he makes a hell of a sound. It’s so often his beats that herald the key sections and he is the rhythmic tug at the heart of the Jezabels sound thatcan make this indie rock so danceable.

Keyboardist Heather Shannon seems to provide a lot of the bass end (live at least), generates the atmospherics of intrigue and tension with Sam, and provides vital injections of light and shade, such as the lovely, mellow tones in new single “The End”. Then, in the middle of it all, there wassinging titan Hayley Mary. She was in wonderfully powerful voice throughout, never more so than during personal highlight “Long Highway”which was bigger and better than ever. Cutting a variety of shapes, including an endearing hand-on-hip move that I think I last saw in Pride and Prejudice, she was immensely grateful to London for its welcoming of the band for the 12 months-or-so that they have been resident here while recording. The band’s well-appreciated thank-you included excellent renditions of, amongst others, “Endless Summer” (cue HUGE roars), “Rosebud”, “Catch Me” and earlier tracks “Dark Storm” and “Mace Spray”.

New album “The Brink” is scheduled for release on 31 January next year. On this evidence I have good news for Jezabels fans. Of all the new material played last night “The End” (which was a big hit with the audience) actually seemed like the weakest of the bunch. Lucky us !



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