Last Thursday night kickstarted a 4 day extravaganza of scintillating live music
for this reviewer as after going to see the incredible talents of Wisconsin born
Blues rocker Jared James Nichols, I was heading to Ramblin Man Fair, (where I
first heard of this awesome guitarist), for the next 3 days, to revel in the glory
of live music whilst sitting in the Kent sunshine (after the rain had cleared
Given the dual roles of photographing and reviewing this Thursday night’s
musical feast, I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to give my teenage
daughter a musical lesson so talked her into making the trip into London with
me to make some review notes whilst I concentrated on the camera work. The
lure of a cheeky G&T for her obviously did the trick and she agreed to do my
groundwork for me.
I have to say that the Boston Music Room is a new venue on me, conveniently
situated about a minutes walk from Tuffnell Park Tube station, it would be very
easy to miss. A small sign hanging above the door and a small barrier on the
pavement is the only give away to their being a live music venue inside. The
venue itself is well laid out, with tables and chairs down one side, a small (ish)
stage and a nice easily accessible bar. The sound was incredibly good but the
lighting (from a photographers point of view) could be better, especially for an
artist of the calibre of Mr Jared James Nichols.
Tonight’s support band were also, I am ashamed to say, completely new to me.
In the build up to this gig, I had been so wrapped up in getting everything
sorted for Ramblin Man I had not had chance to do any research into Vambo
and was going in blind. I needn’t have had any concerns though as this London
based 4 piece treated us to a set of exquisite 70’s inspired groove laden rock
that set the temp perfectly for tonight’s headline act.
Steve Price on drums, took to the stage and didn’t let up until they left the
stage some 45 minutes later. Inspired by the likes of Deep Purple, Led
Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Black Sabbath the assembled crowd were warmed
up with an 11 track set full of blistering guitar parts and some incredible vocals
by Stiles, who looked like a young version of Roy Wood with his long wavy hair
and tinted sun glasses.
Willy, Camo and Paradise were the three songs that opened the set in true
hard rock vein. The solidity and fluidness of the rhythm section shone through
in abundance as the band properly tested out the Marshall speakers on stage.
The band looked like they were having a great time on stage and this really
shone through to the audience who were banging their heads and clapping
along. A drop in tempo for the wonderful Circles, which gave Jack Stiles a
chance to show us what a superb vocal range he possesses before taking the
tempo back up again with We’re Not The Same.
Next up was the bands latest release “Why Why Why” which came out in June,
and which has been on Planet Rock rotation. The track has a real infectious
beat and riff to it and was one of the highlights of the set for me. Fast Car, a
Zeppelin Medley, Down Lil Mama and Jeopardy took us to the last song of the
set, Burn. Finishing with a cover version was an inspired decision by these
young, enigmatic rockers, but finishing with a song of the calibre of Burn, was a
master stroke. Stiles absolutely nailed the vocal part perfectly in the same
manner that Mr Coverdale did all those years ago and it left the crowd really
buzzing as this entertaining, talented and completely mesmerising 4 piece left
By the time that Jared James Nichols took to the stage, the venue was getting
hot. The room had filled to capacity to see the new found King of Blues Power
and it was getting sweaty in there. There was a real air of anticipation in
Tuffnell Park for what was about to be witnessed and rightly so. Having had the
pleasure of seeing Jared support Stone Broken on their UK jaunt in 2018, I
knew that myself and the assembled crowd were about to witness something
very special. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GynP_Jw5AnY&w=560&h=315] With drummer Dennis Holm and bassist Ronnie “Elvis” James making up his
band, Jared James Nichols is a superstar in the making. The term “one of the
nicest people in rock n roll is readily banded about, and sometimes incorrectly,
but Jared really is. He doesn’t stop smiling for the whole of his set, seems
genuinely grateful to those that have attended tonight (and before) and
bought merchandise and looks like he is having the absolute time of his life
playing his blues to anybody and everybody that will listen.
What we get from the man tonight is a 13 track set that includes songs from his 2017 album Black Magic, some tracks from his 2014 album Old Glory and the Wild Revival, new music and a sublime cover. Taking full advantage of being in the UK as one of the support acts to Living Colour on their summertime jaunt around these isles, this gig falls on his night off from that job and allows Jared and his band to play a full set to his fans.
Jared walked out on to the stage with a smile from ear to ear, picked up his guitar and knelt down in front of his amp before sending the crowd into dreamland with opening track Last Chance. That and the next 3 songs we were treated to were all taken from his Black Magic album as Don’t Be Scared, Honey Forgive Me and End of Time followed. As I said, this venue was hot and Jared was making it hotter with every shred of his guitar. As I was photographing the gig I needed to be at the front and was fortunate enough to be right underneath Mr Nichols microphone. I am sure that with every sweat soaked flick of his long mane of hair, my t-shirt and face developed a considerable resemblance to JJN DNA. The power and passion that he plays his masterful and delightful blues with is a joy to behold and it deserves to be heard in arena’s and stadiums the world over.
Baby Can You Feel It sees the first dip into his 2014 release and the opportunity, after walking out into the crowd to wow them up close and personal with a fantastic solo, to get them involved with a mass sing along of the songs title. Anybody who listens to Planet Rock, cannot surely have failed to have heard the new single Nails In My Coffin which has quite rightly been given massive airplay these last few weeks. This is the song we get next and It is an absolute epic in the live arena. I loved the way the track built slowly with the pace picking up as the song went on and you could really hear the emotion and passion in Jared’s vocals as he sang every word. If you remember, my daughter was writing my notes for the review and she has written “feeling and love in the singing”…how bloody true that is and sums it up perfectly.
Hardwired To Love You takes the tempo back up and gets each and every crowd member clapping along before delving back into that first album for Blackfoot, after which he is taunted by the crowd to down his beer. Smiles, laughter, one pint gone, big cheer! It was one of those nights where crowd interacted with artist, artist interacted with crowd and every man, woman and child was happy.
Run, The Gun and Playing Keeps brought the set to a close and in keeping with the intimacy and laid back nature of the venue and the man, sees Jared sitting on the front of the stage during Run, treating those at the front to a very special moment as he plays a mesmerising and delicate solo to them before drifting off further into his smiling fans to play a longer, faster, but no less delightful solo before jumping back on stage for the last two songs of the set.
After a very brief departure from the stage, the star of the night returns, on his own and with a departure from the set list, to play the wonderfully emotive and graceful Now or Never. A truly captivating and alluring song that really encapsulated the emotion and special feeling the night possessed. After that, a rousing version of Mountain’s Mississippi Queen brought the set to a close, which got every audience member singing and clapping and included according to my daughter strong vocals (she’s not wrong there) and an amazing guitar solo! As the song finished, Jared James Nichols left the stage through the crowd and headed straight for the merch table after thanking tonight’s gig goers and telling them he wanted to thank each and every one of them personally.
I left the venue some 65 minutes later and he was still there, talking to the fans with a queue of people still waiting for their chance to talk to him. As I said earlier, this man really is one of the nicest men in rock and roll and after that performance is also deserving of people listing him with the other guitar gods that he is completely up there with. An inspirational, hot, sweaty night had been completed and it set me up perfectly for the next 3 days at Ramblin Man, which hopefully Jared James Nichols will be a part of again in the future as he would fit in perfectly with the vibe of the festival and he deserves to play to crowds of that size.
Review & Photography by Darren Smith