JACK J HUTCHINSON BAND / SQUARE ONE - The Patriot, Crumlin 01.02.19
PHOTO CREDITS: NAOMI JEREMIAH
The British weather threatened to put a dampener on the gig tonight with South Wales covered in a frosty blanket of snow a mere 24 hours earlier. But, we’re a hardened bunch round these parts and a little bit of the white stuff was not going to derail this particular gig!
Opening up tonight were SQUARE ONE, a “whiskey fuelled” Southern Rock band from The Deep South....West of England. Travelling over a now toll-free Severn Bridge and despite a couple of members enduring a difficult day of travel to get to the gig, the band were in good spirits, and full of pizza(!) Having not heard their material previously I was eager to discover something new.
The opening one-two punch of ‘High and Dry’ and ‘Fire’ went down very well. Punctuated by Sam Boughens hard-hitting drums, and led by some filthy southern guitar and banjo licks, these songs could easily be described as Dance/Country! Andrew Willett on lead guitar tearing up a storm on the latter track.
‘Redemption’ started slow with volume swells and a mandolin (courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Dan Russell) before opening up with a big chorus. The addition of the harmonious backing vocals from Russell and Bass Player Ben Johnson that peppered SQUARE ONE’s set were fantastic and what struck me during ‘Redemption’ was how slick and polished these guys are as a live act. Colour me impressed.
‘Who We Are’ continued in the Country-Rock vein which showcased the bands American sounding rock. All that was missing is a good ol’ Nashville drawl from vocalist Sam Boxell. Very catchy and with shades of Matchbox Twenty about them in their rockier moments, and they reminded me of a band I saw at The Grand Old Opry called Sixwire. SQUARE ONE would not sound out of place on US radio stations.
The ballad ‘Black Dress’ slowed things down a touch showcasing more impressive vocals whilst ‘All Night Long’ picked the pace back up with a fast southern riff, tremolo-picked banjo and some sweet lead guitar from Willett once again and his sick vibrato. Thanks to a riff ripped straight from School of Rock, the audience joined in with some singing before the band wrapped up the song.
A cover of Luke Bryan’s ‘Country Girl (Shake For Me)’ and their own ‘Let’s Go’ with its sweet sounding pop chorus closed out what was a thoroughly enjoyable set. If you like your rock with a dash of Country / Southern influences then do yourself a favour and take a listen to SQUARE ONE. You won’t regret it.
SQUARE ONE are:
Sam Boxell – Vocals / Guitar
Sam Boughen – Drums
Ben Johnson – Bass . Backing Vocals
Dan Russell – Banjo / Mandolin / Backing Vocals
Andrew Willett – Lead Guitar
I’d seen tonight’s headliner JACK J HUTCHINSON a couple of times before, but always solo with an acoustic guitar. This was going to be my first time experiencing him at full volume with his band. I thought I’d be in for a treat...and as usual, I was right!
Taking to the stage during the changeover (obviously), there was a bit of fine-tuning before BAM! No messing about, no introductions, just straight into the opening track ‘Rapture’ taken from ‘Mahogany Drift’, his latest release with Troy Redfern and Mike Ross as RHR. It was a great way to open a set with its Stones riffing
‘Written In Stone’ settled quickly into a nice bass groove from its initial fuzzy riff and with a raw emotion in Jacks voice and ‘I Got Your Number’ which was more of an acoustic affair on last year’s solo effort ‘Paint No Fiction’, is re imagined here as a heavier number complete with some slide guitar work and shows off some flashy lead playing.
Jack used to be in a band called Boom Boom Brotherhood he tells us. Used to be, and we leave it at that! Sprinkling his set with a trio of songs from their 2017 album ‘Set Your Heart For The Sun’, ‘Boom’ with its Weezer-esque chuggy riff, ‘Get It Back’ and ‘Wake Up’ which was the first instance that we really got to see the chops of bassist Lazarus Michaelides and drummer Felipe Amorim. The former laying down some deep grooves on the bass and Felipe? He’s a beast! I’m certain he eats drum kits for breakfast. All three got a chance to show off a bit in a really cool instrumental jam section.
We were treated to a couple of new songs from a new album hopefully coming out this summer. ‘Lucky Man’ was up first and it struck me that it had a heavier sound and a sign of things to come on that new record. ‘Peace Of Mind’ starts off slow, lulling you into a false sense of security before kicking up into several gears to explode into a rockier number.
The mellow ‘Hold Me Close’ sees Jack’s gruff vocal traded in for something a little gentler and there is an emotional tension created throughout the song. The rhythm section of Lazarus and Felipe holding down the song with a solid foundation.
Throughout the set, there were a few covers thrown in, Fleetwood Macs ‘Oh Well’, Joe Cockers ‘Feelin’ Alright’, Black Crowes’ ‘Thorn In My Pride’, Elmore James’ ‘Shake Your Money Maker’, Led Zep’s ‘Heartbreaker’ (Jack having wanted to do ‘Rock and Roll’, but thought he’d be a prick if he did as Kris Barras has just released his own version! Felipe wanted to do ‘Moby Dick’! Drummers eh?) and the encore was Magic Sam’s ‘Easy Baby’. All these were delivered with a great energy and added their own spin. Whilst I enjoyed the covers, I did wonder that perhaps 6 was too much, especially with the back catalogue that Jack has, but when you’re playing in front of a new crowd, it doesn’t hurt to throw in some familiar tracks, does it?
The set reaches its crescendo with the raw, fuzzy energy of ‘Deal With The Devil’ ensuring that the crowd in attendance go home happy after an evening of fantastic rock/country/southern/blues and all in between.
I’ve seen Jack solo, as I’ve previously mentioned, but a special mention must go to “the real stars of the show”, as Jack labelled them, Felipe and Lazarus. Their playing was superb throughout allowing a deep, rhythmic bed for Jack to jump off from. The use of dynamics was a sight to behold, from taking songs down to an intricate hush to taking them all the way back up to 11 with a bombastic display of energy and groove that is special to see.
Overall, the night was spectacular. Both bands putting on a barnstorming performance to showcase their immense talents and I can’t imagine many people left feeling underwhelmed in the slightest. A fine slab of hot-rocking blues to melt away the snow!
JACK J HUTCHINSON BAND are:-
Jack J Hutchinson – Vocals / Guitar
Lazarus Michaelides – Bass
Felipe Amorim – Drums