Live Music + Gig Reviews

Danko Jones @ Islington Academy, London

28 October 2003

Danko Jones

Danko Jones

Taking to the stage in one of London’s newest and most sterile venues (bizarrely hidden in the centre of Islington’s shrine to the nation’s favourite pastime), Danko Jones are here to, and I quote, “Slap y’all around the face!” Careering from opener Dance into the blinding Way To My Heart, the Toronto trio have started as they mean to go on, giving 100% and winning over any cynical newcomers within mere bars of their set.

Mr Jones is a phenomenon; the man is a human lizard. A tongue hasn’t quivered so feverishly since Gene Simmons’ hey day, with wild eyes and furiously nodding head only adding to the iguana persona. However, Danko is not to be mocked; here is a man with a voice that was born to rock smoky clubs from here to Timbuktu, working his larynx harder than a Tory leader fighting for survival.

Forget My Name is a riff-tastic, brutally heavy number that leaves no head still, as the infectious groove of Canada’s best export since maple syrup seeps through the venue. Slipping slyly into the lead track from their debut album, Play The Blues is a musical tribute, history lesson and the bitterest of ballads, all rolled into a three-minute blizzard of rock genius. Subsequently, Take It Off sums up Danko’s love of all things female, centred around, you guessed it, slipping into one’s birthday suit, and getting one’s mojo on.

They ain’t quite stoner, and they ain’t quite Garage rock, but whatever the genre, Danko Jones are kick-starting the heart of rock ‘n’ roll back into gear, with Lovercall boasting a bass line so groovily distorted, even Lemmy would be jealous.

To say that every Danko Jones song is centred around their raging libidos would be a lie. Truth be told there is one song that isn’t. We Sweat Blood is a raging battle cry from these veterans of true rock. With the stage suitably drenched in crimson light, the veins on Dankos cropped head nigh on bursting and punters shouting along in unison, the Canadians are in their element.

Closing with signature song-cum-mantra, Mountain, the reptilian frontman imparts his vision of standing atop “rock mountain” holding the hands of his heroes (a list that takes in everyone from Joey Ramone to Marvin Gaye). Looking below at all those who have ever put him down, it all gets very emotional as the singer let us in on his personal motto, “This heart gets stronger, this skin gets thicker, this voice gets louder!”

Combined with beating of chest and slapping of face, the rumbling backing of John and Damon builds to breaking point and climaxes in a frenzy of rock euphoria, uniting and uplifting all within earshot, as the singer and his band wallow in their “this is the reason we live” moment. Alas it is all over too soon and we are left to return to our lives, safe in the knowledge that, “If you wanna know how to play the blues, you gotta get yourself a woman!”

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More on Danko Jones
Danko Jones – Never Too Loud
Danko Jones – Sleep Is The Enemy
Danko Jones: “I’m not interested in being home, I wanna postpone that as long as I can” – Interview
Danko Jones @ Islington Academy, London
Danko Jones – We Sweat Blood