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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

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Fanatic CD Cover
Image InsideOut Music America 2003

Concert Review

 

(11 May 2003) Well, what can one say about a new Jadis album? I do like this band very much and find their brand of accessible, almost poppy prog rock very appealing, and very summery. It's just the sort of bright, breezy and uplifting music that makes me want to sit out in the garden on a hot day and relax. It's with that thought in mind that I have decided to write this review in my back garden on a wonderful summer Sunday afternoon, just to get me in the right mood.

On first listen, I often find Jadis albums slightly formulaic and occasionally samey. But you usually need to spend a little time with them for them to sink in and truly appreciate them. That was very much the case with this album. I initially thought here we go again. All the usual trademarks are there; the Chandler/Orford harmonies, the jangly guitars, the catchy melodies etc. But I have lived with this album for a whole week now, and I would say it is certainly as good as anything they have done up until now.

Opener "The Great Outside" is a rousing, mid-paced rocker, with a raunchy, almost Zeppelin-like opening riff, giving way to some soaring guitar lines from Gary. A very good song, but the best is yet to come. "Into Temptation" kicks off with some bright, clean guitar chords before settling down into a bouncy little number. And is it me, or did the main riff seem slightly reminiscent of Zeppelin's "Black Dog"? Hmmm, there's another Zeppelin reference. Gary pulls off a couple of superb solos on this one, the second one very heavy on the wah-wah, building to a superb crescendo near the end that I know is just going to sound terrific live.

"Each And Everyday" begins with some retro-style drum machine sounds, but Gary's voice is really on top form here. We get some of the trademark 'na-na-na' vocals again, but who's complaining? A gentle, laid back song that just gets better each time I hear it. Some intricate drum rhythms signal the opening to "I Never Noticed." A very listenable song, but it has yet to grow on me. It bounces along quite merrily and Gary's guitar work (slightly Dave Gilmour-ish here) is always top notch, ncluding some wonderful harmonics. I believe this track also contains the only keyboard solo on the album.

The title track, however, is the piece de resistance. It starts with some spacey, treated piano from Martin Orford, with some gentle sequencer rhythms chugging along in the background. Close your eyes and you would swear you were listening to Tangerine Dream. For a while it seems as though the song is going to happily continue in this vein, until some ethereal keyboards take centre stage, leading us into what is possibly one of the best, and most exquisite guitar solo's I have heard for years. The sheer emotion that Gary rips out of his guitar on this one almost had me in tears. I suspect Gary must be influenced somewhat by Andy Latimer of Camel, as it is highly reminiscent of Andy's style of guitar playing.

Some more of Gary's beloved guitar arpeggios take us into "Yourself Alone," another favourite track. This has a superbly catchy chorus that has been going round in my head for a couple of days now. I can certainly see myself singing along to this one at the next gig. "Take These Words" is another bright and breezy number that has some more wonderful guitar lines from Gary. I suppose you could describe this track as proto-typical Jadis, as it contains all of the familiar elements Those who like the band will love it, those who don't won't--it's that simple.

"What Kind Of Reason" is the longest track on the album, and one which took me a while to warm to, but I really like it now. It begins as a very laid back acoustic number, but Gary's voice really shines on this one, very powerful and emotional. As if this was not enough, he also throws in another blistering guitar solo.

It's at this point that I thought the album took a bit of a dip in quality. "Who Can We Be Sure Of" just did not work for me. The slightly dissonant nature of the chorus seemed at odds with the rest of the material on the album, and there seemed to be a few too many superfluous changes thrown in. Similarly with the closing track, "The Flame Is Burning Out." This one again seemed to be trying to be just a little too heavy for my tastes.

A fine album then, with perhaps just a couple of below par tracks. Like most of Jadis output, it will please fans of the band most certainly, though is unlikely to win many new converts. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. But if like me you are one of the converted, there is much here to enjoy.--John Morley

Jadis: Live at The Brook, Southampton, 07 May 2003

Review. You know, I am beginning to feel like the Alan Whicker of progressive music, travelling to all these far-flung exotic locations to spread the good word to wonderful people out there. And this journey took me to the outer reaches of Southampton--The Brook in Southampton to be exact, to see Jadis.

A taped intro heralds the arrival of Jadis on stage, it actually being a section of the title track from the new album Fanatic. I had hoped that they may actually play this track, but it was not to be. Shame, as in my opinion it contains some of the best guitar work Gary Chandler has ever done.

In fact, the opening track was "Yourself Alone," another piece from the new album. Heavier live than on record, it has one of those wonderful sing along choruses that the band seem able to produce quite effortlessly. A very good opener. "Where In The World" followed, an efficient reading of the song, but I have heard them play it better. Seems at this point as though the band still need to warm up and hit their stride.

A word about the sound at this point: The Brook being a reasonably small venue, it cannot be easy to get a decent mix. The effect that came across that night is that the drums seemed to dominate. I could not hear John Jowitt's bass as well as I would have liked, similarly with Martin Orford's keyboards. Gary's guitar was coming through loud and clear, though. Not a terrible mix, but not the greatest.

"Take These Words" was up next, another new track. I am glad I have spent time with the new album this past week, as this is where the band really started to come alive. Gary's guitar work on this one was nothing short of excellent, and drummer Steve Christey was kicking up hell of a storm at the back. Guess they have just hit their stride

Another great favourite and Jadis standard is "Daylight fades," with those familiar jangly opening chords. It's a wonderful, uplifting piece of music with yet another appealing chorus and again some great guitar work from Gary. "What Kind Of Reason" then slowed the pace down somewhat, starting out as a gentle acoustic number, but with some passionate singing from Gary, and a rousing guitar solo to bring the song to a satisfying conclusion.

A mention must go here to the more than capable vocal talents of Martin Orford--as well as being a superb keyboard player, his backup vocals more than adequately compliment Gary's singing. They manage to produce some exquisite harmonies between them. It was at this point that I realised that sitting in the balcony was a bit of a double edged sword. Yes, it was nice to sit down and get a good view of the band, but it appeared to me that a lot of the people upstairs were not actually fans of the band, rather people who had just wandered in to see what was going on.

One of my all time fave Jadis songs is "Wonderful World," from the album More Than Meets The Eye. Tonight's version was a powerful, emotional tour-de-force. Steve Christey really shone on this one, producing some superb drum fills, effortlessly tearing across his kit with lightning speed. Gary appeared to be making his guitar literally sing h here--absolutely mesmerising. This is Jadis at their best, firing on all six cylinders. Some intensely emotional vocals from Gary signal the opening of "In Isolation," a track that always reminds me of Genesis' "Squonk." An efficient, if occasionally messy, version of the song.

Talking of favourites, we also got my all time favourite Jadis track "Sleepwalk." I just love this one, and they didn't disappoint. This was perfection itself. I was jumping around in my chair and playing imaginary drums and guitar on this one, but dammit I was enjoying myself even if no one else around me was making an effort. For an encore, we got another of the bands classic epics, "The Beginning And The End." A guy sitting next to me remarked that this is as good as anything Yes, Genesis, Floyd etc have ever written. And who am I to argue? Gary's guitar was spot on here, effortlessly switching between gentle chords and searing, melodic solos whilst often singing at the same time. And the solo at the end of this one was one of the best of the evening.

Sadly, it was a rather short set, about 100 minutes worth, but 100 minutes of sheer quality. Rather than leaving me with a sense of disappointment, it just left me anxious to see them again--and soon.--John Morley

 
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