Live Review: Jack Askew – Northern Guitars, Leeds 29.06.2023

Phil Pountney

I always feel overwhelmingly privileged when I discover fresh and emerging new artists on the live
music scene, and when I heard that a local singer songwriter id been following for a while was
playing a gig in Leeds it was too good an opportunity to miss, so I hot footed it into the city and
found my way to the Northern Guitar venue for an evening with Jack Askew, an emerging vocalist
and guitarist with a very solid grunge and rock core.

The venue was impressively occupied, and all eyes were on the corner of the bar where Jack was
plying his trade, Fender in hand, belting out an impressive rendition of ‘House Of The Rising Sun’
with relative ease. The set was constructed of an impressive ninety minutes plus, and injected all
manner of cover versions of classics chartering various genres and decades along the way, all sitting
alongside original constructions with a natural aesthetic akin to that of siblings with mature years.

The vocals from Askew were solid and muscular throughout, his raspiness had a tinge similar to that
of the ‘Bleach’ and ‘Incesticide’ Cobain eras. The dexterity and passion with which Askew tamed the
fretboard of his Fender was solid and elegant, injecting an obvious ease and fluidity into the art he
managed to generate from the six strings. The persona from Askew could draw similarities to those
of Vedder and Weiland from the ‘Ten’ and ‘Interstate Love Song’ epochs respectively, a lone soldier
delivering raw and emotive renditions of tracks which have helped raise him in his musical journey
to date.

The intimacy of the venue, and the ability for us to catch glimpses of the whites of Askews eyes, only
added to the elegant rawness of the whole gig and conjured up a natural and raw grunge esque
feeling to the event, Askew manipulated the chords and riffs with passion which was only
personified through his amp and with it a decadence and warmth was created which seemed to
embrace all those in attendance, the connection truly was palpable beyond belief.

The rawness and warmth of each track was enveloped into the set, each being given new identities, new characters, whilst still managing to maintain their own original charm. ‘All Apologies’ and ‘Heart Shaped Box’ were naturally stripped back yet still maintained a crude beauty while ‘Everlong’ was muscular and
powerful, a rendition of a Foo Fighters anthem which Grohl himself would be proud of had he been here in Leeds tonight.

The originals from Askew, ‘Crumble’, ‘IOHTHYS’, ‘Fall Away’ and my personal favourite, ‘Being
Honest’, were all crunching, passionate and emotive, delivered with a hunger and thirst which was
endearing and intriguing in equal measures. I well and truly welcome the day that more Askew
tracks are unleashed on the musical soundscape so that we can catch more glimpses into the
evolving artistic journey we had just spent an evening strolling down.

The absolute highlight of the evening though, one which will stay in many a heart of those who were
lucky enough to be in the Calls Lane venue tonight, a rousing and provocative rendition of the John
Denver psalm, ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’, which invoked a huge sing along from the entire bar
which, at times, drowned out the vocals from Askew as the choruses were sung back at the stage
with immense gusto and sublime delight.

This had well and truly been an evening where one of the brightest emerging talents, a young Layne
Stanley if you wish, had added another rung to his ladder. Jack Askew is a name you need to have
etched on your live music radar and one you need to check out next time he is in a town near you, I
for one will be front and centre at the Clarence Park Festival and Wakefield Live Festivals in the
coming months, hope to see you down the front!

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