Less Than Jake

It’s been almost exactly two years since Less Than Jake’s last UK tour, and it’s always exciting to see them return. As one of the most energetic, entertaining, and downright fun bands around, they have a habit of delivering performances that put them in a class of their own. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to see what they could do this time round.

Opening proceedings were Allbright, a local pop/punk five-piece. Being first on stage is never easy, particularly when the doors open half an hour earlier than advertised, but Allbright didn’t let the emptiness of the venue phase them, enthusiastically belting out catchy song after catchy song.

We Are The Union

The band’s recent experience as a headline act showed, with front man Liam Price engaging well with the audience and managing to stir a respectable amount of enthusiasm. Their sound might have been a bit more poppy than the night’s other acts, but they were well received and set the scene for a raucous night.

Following up with a heavier sound were We Are The Union. With chunky riffs, frantic drums, and a healthy dose of horns, they really got the crowd going, helped by a couple of die-hard fans who were singing almost as eagerly as the band themselves.

Zebrahead
Zebrahead

Although the set was marred slightly by poor sound mixing, WATU’s energy easily overcame the technical issues, and left the growing audience buzzing.

The third and final support were Zebrahead. Having previously toured with bands including Green Day, Reel Big Fish, and Goldfinger, these pop/punk/rap/rockers obviously know how to engage a crowd, and immediately had the whole room going wild.

Less Than Jake

Taking audience participation to another level, vocalists Ali Tabatabaee and Matty Lewis lead the throng in all manner of games, including a ‘lollipops vs unicorns’ wall of death, a mass sit-down ‘beer break’ halfway through, and a circle pit which threatened to suck in everyone and everything within 20 metres of the stage.

Of course all of this wouldn’t mean much without a set of killer songs to back it up, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Blasting out crowd-pleasers like Let’s Go, Dissatisfied, and Anthem, they expertly ramped up the energy levels in the room, and even claimed the honour of first crowd-surfer of the night.

Less Than Jake

With everyone well and truly warmed up it was time for Less Than Jake to take to the stage. They opened with trademark zeal, and the crowd instantly responded to tried-and-tested classics such as Liquor Store, Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts, and Great American Sharpshooter.

Sadly the set took a disappointing downturn shortly afterwards with a number of underwhelming TV theme covers, and a bizarre and embarrassing interlude where lead singer Chris dragged the oldest man in the room on stage and tried to persuade girls to come up and grind him. This lasted for about five minutes, and the crowd was getting visibly restless for some more music.

Less Than Jake

Thankfully the audience’s dissatisfaction eventually became apparent to the band, and they decided to get on with doing what they do best – building the atmosphere in the room to fever pitch with their huge catalogue of epic ska songs.

In fact, their discography is so huge that they had no choice but to leave out some of their best-loved tracks, such as Gainsville Rock City and Scott Farcas Takes It On The Chin, but when there were so many other great songs to choose from it’s hard to criticise.

Less Than Jake

Despite a growing list of recent releases, the band stuck mostly to songs from their older albums. This was a blessing for many fans, myself included, who prefer the rawer sounds of songs like How’s My Driving Doug Hastings? to their overly-produced and less energetic newer tracks.

Overall it was a commanding set, and a great end to the night. Once again Less Than Jake proved that they are masters of the live show, thrashing out some truly awesome songs and engaging the audience like few other bands can. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait two years until they do it again.

Less Than Jake

Gig Review by Pete Williams
Gig Photography by Helen Williams

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