In jangly indie rock circles, big things are expected of Joe Lean, a skinny boy in skinny jeans who fronts the tonguetwisting band called The Jing Jang Jong. Support tours booked with Babyshambles and the Kaiser Chiefs already suggest expectation is becoming reality.
Headlining this Levi’s Ones To Watch tour date, which comes complete with product placement and a cringingly incongruous compere duo, the band have already amassed something of a celebrity following ahead of frontline releases. Amongst the famous faces spotted in attendance are Franz Ferdinand‘s Alex Kapranos.
But first up is Ida Maria, a Norwegian lady who doesn’t so much sing as scream. Shrilly. It’s not that her songs are ‘screamo’. Maybe her Nash-a-like polkadot skirt or her black stockings are making her uncomfortable. She comes across as somebody’s kid sister taking over their band when they were too chemed up to sing.
She does a decent enough, if self-conscious, job of fronting her band. Of her songs, Oh My God is something of a standout that has nothing to do with the Kaiser Chiefs, for which we can at least be grateful. Her crowd-pleasing highlight is Better When You’re Naked, with lyrics of limited range perfectly suiting the jangly, post-Libertines safe punk music. She leaves the stage after knocking down her microphone stand. Dangerous.
Pete And The Pirates shamble on like a bunch of gay sailors enjoying a night of lascivious land lubbing. Pocket-sized front man Tommy Sanders’ trim and tatted torso is hugged in a white vest. He’s the charismatic axis around whom the band spin. His banter with the preppy ginger drummer and his knowing way with a tambourine draw the audience in to whatever he’s doing.
The songs – Knots and Bright Lights amongst them – use several vocal lines to create an immediate singalong ambience that’s hard not to like – the band and their songs effortlessly ooze charm. She Doesn’t Belong is a highlight in a set that doesn’t outstay its welcome – they do enough to suggest further listens to their recordings are necessary.
Indie construct Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong played their first gig together only nine months ago. Their debut single Lucio Starts Fires appeared just a month before tonight’s headline gig. Joe Lean’s real name is Joseph Beaumont, but he’s also been billed as Joe Van Moyland for his acting work – he played bisexual composer Thomas Tallis in the recent BBC series The Tudors. Until a few months ago he was also The Pipettes‘ drummer, known then as Robin Of Loxley. That band’s love of retro pop melody is the core of this new operation, though it’s shot through with punky rhythm rather than girly harmonies.
Having been compered on by the ludicrous product placement commerce ambassadors (who somehow escaped the bottling they and their masters deserved), the band turn up in a flurry of carefully chosen attire and expensively messied hairstyles. The blond guitarist’s velveteen jacket suggests another age. Joe’s skinny jeans and innocent look suggest an NME poster boy styled for just such a purpose. Together they look like a bunch of hairdressers’ models. Underneath it all there’s possibly something authentic, but it’s pretty well buried.
Their songs are inoffensive enough, replete with jangly guitars and woo-hooing, but they lack both hooks and originality. There’s a distinct lack of moshing as the audience gaze on, wanting to get into the music but somehow not connecting. Maybe the overtly odious commercialism surrounding the sets had dampened enthusiasm levels. Pete And The Pirates in particular deserve better. All three are indeed Ones To Watch, but its debatable whether we need a clothing manufacturer to tell us that.