Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind, Suzie Stapleton @ Sound Control
When the Jim Jones Revue announced their impending suicide, it was a big loss to the blues world. Here was a band who knew how to play live; loud, energetically and with all the heart and soul they could muster. They’d played on the Jools Holland show, on David Letterman across the pond and toured their arses off no end, earning a sizable following in the process. But fear not, this is not the death of something great but the start of something, not quite beautiful – more dark and menacing – but utterly captivating no less. Their lynchpin, Mister Jim Jones himself, has returned with The Righteous Mind, a band sounding more evil and wicked, more devilish then the Londoner's previous noise makers.
Suzie Stapleton, an Australian singer songwriter now living in London, is a lone wolf on the stage. She’s an amicable support act, playing her Les Paul through a thin but dirty overdrive and crooning atop an underbelly of smarting chords and twisting blues refrains. Her voice has a sharp yet smoky quality to it, her songs raw, painful and true.
It’s a shame there aren't many people here to appreciate what she’s doing – somehow the capacity doubles in size almost the instance The Righteous Mind take to stage. But there’s a contingent in the diverse crowd, from young couples to middle aged men and women, who are rapt and completely in tune with her rhapsodising and slithering guitar work.
My expectancy meanwhile, having neglected myself of knowing what Jim Jones’ new musical exponent sounding like, was ill-judged – and in the best possible way. Where Jim Jones Revue where hard-hitting and raucous, The Righteous Mind are slower and more subtle, their shadowy countenance greeting you like a thug down a dark alley.
Imagine if Queens of the Stone Age where a gutter band from the 50s. With a boogie-woogie piano dropped down several octaves, growling from the back of the stage, both intertwining and battling with Gavin Jay’s filthy double bass sound, they provided a guttural take on classic, downtrodden blues music.
Their frontman was the perfect host, getting the crowd involved, sharing jokes and beers with them too, and the set went by with a wry smile – albeit one with ill intentions. Blues music has an inspiring ability to be metamorphisised into a myriad of different guises and what this band does with that formula is drape it in funeral garb and give it a black eye, but you leave with a smile on your face. It’s uncanny.
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Anthony Firmin