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Review: 'Jasmine Minks & The Jazz Butcher Quartet'
'Live at The Lexington, Islington.'   

-  Genre: 'Indie' -  Release Date: '15.4.17.'

Our Rating:
Yes this is a recreation of the legendary tour this pair of bands did together 30 years ago back when they were both on creation. One of the bands have continued to play throughout the intervening time and the Jasmine Minks are back for another one of their once in awhile re-union shows. I have to say I was there first time round as a Jazz Butcher fan and after all this time although I saw Jasmine Minks a couple of times I don't remember much about them other than the singer played in dark shades first time round.

In the last year or so The Jazz Butcher haven't played that much since their last permanent drummer passed away suddenly and tonight sees the band's 4th drummer in 5 gigs this time it's Dave Morgan from Alternative TV joining the regular Quartet of Steve New On Bass and Simon Taylor on trumpet and of course Pat Fish on vocals and guitar.

They opened with a cool laid back version of Animals that featured a very sweet trumpet solo as Pat's guitar worked with it and we got used to the fact that Steve New has swapped his stand-up bass for an electric one that helped to change the feel of the band a bit from the last time I saw them.

Mr Odd seemed to be hammed up a little bit in places almost like they are trying to sound like Ron Pate's Debonairs if that isn't too obscure a reference or a bit like a latter day Slim Gaillard. Black Raoul was all sinewy bass lines and pretty restrained drumming as Pat gave us the tale of his cat's other lives and it also featured a very cool trumpet solo.

Melanie Hargreaves Fathers Jaguar was next for this lush and laid back treatment and they played up to the inherent humour in the song as Fishy told us about the damage done to Mr Hargreaves pride and joy it was great fun and had lots of smiling along to it.

They then had a bit of a false start at the beginning of Shirley Maclaine as Pat forgot to dedicate it to the group of fans who had arrived by charabanc from quite some distance away. Still it didn't change how good the song sounded and how much the jazz element of the band's music has come forward in recent years as in parts it was like they were trying to sound like Cannonball Adderley singing something like Mercy, either way it went down really well.

We then got a bit of a ramshackle version of Shakey that was in places a little all over the place but it worked for the song. Pat then said good evening to the band's special guest only Max Eider just nodded back and stayed in the audience before they closed with Solar Core there masterful reworking of the Blues Ain't Nothing that cooked along nicely and left us all wanting to hear some more.

Then I was expecting the crowd to seem excited by the chance to see Jasmine Minks first London gig for 6 years according to Wikipedia, but to be honest there was no sense of excitement and no one clapped when they came on stage and there was but a ripple of applause when the singer Jim Shepherd said Hi and told us they would be playing all of Another Age a few more people came onto the dance floor but it remained a flat atmosphere.

As I never bought the records first time round and don't really remember much about them I guess they played the album in order but don't know for sure, but they quickly showed why I had forgotten them as they play what was rather fey shmindie with some paisley leanings but not enough for my tastes or to really get the crowd going. About 3 or 4 songs in finally I heard one of the things that I liked about them first time round yes we got a really tasty guitar solo from Jim that lifted things a bit.

By the time they had played all of Another Age about a third of the audience that had been on the dancefloor had retreated to the bar area it wasn't that they sounded bad as they didn't and some of the songs had some really good harmonies in them and when they let the drummer sing it always seemed to lift things a bit but just that this was music to lean against a wall too.

Things perked up considerably when they got to playing there other greatest hits and singles, that part of the show opened with a great version of Think that was about the first song I recognized and that seemed to get more than the 4 die-hards at the front going it sounded damn good. What's Happening also had more of an edge to it and also went down pretty well.

They then did the band's new Single 10000 Tear that is a charity record for Muscular Dystrophy and well it was just about the best thing they played all night it sounded really cool nice guitars and the keyboards really helped as the drummer Tom Reid's vocals really helped it as the rest of the band then harmonised with him a real high point in the set.

The next song that stood out for me was Cold Hearts that at least sounded a little bit familiar and wasn't quite as fey as some of the band's other material. Not sure what they closed with but it certainly didn't get the crowd screaming for more in fact before they'd even left the stage about a third of the audience was already headed towards the door. Still the people left did clap enough to get them back for an encore.

As they'd played everything they'd rehearsed we got a reprise of 10000 Tears to open the encore that didn't sound quite as good second time round. They then busked through Work for Nothing that actually sounded pretty good and would have been a highlight properly rehearsed still good to hear it live. And they then closed with a second version of Time For You that to be honest was superfluous and I could have lived without.

This was not a triumphant return for Jasmine Minks sadly and I can happily go another decade or two before I see them play again, although on the right festival bill they would be perfect for the middle of the afternoon.
  author: simonovitch

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