We went to see Wisconsin-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter/stunning bluesman, JARED JAMES NICHOLS — famous for his brilliant guitar shapes, his bubbling rhythms and his grit-fed voice — at the Robin 2 in Bilston, near Wolverhampton on Tuesday 4th September. Jared James was supporting the fabulous L.A. Guns
We thought Nichols recent “Black Magic” album was delivered with “flamboyant guitar chemistry [and] enthusiastic feverishness…”
Nichols came onto stage after an impressive and enthusiastic set from Dublin sleaze-rockers Stone Trigger.
Nichols effortlessly powered through the snarly “Don’t be Scared” with its fierce rhythms and barbed guitar. This number had concrete slabs of high-gloss brilliance, with great wallops of bass and the kind of ever-increasing groove that, to be honest, brought to mind “Heavy Duty” [This Is Spinal Tap] — and please, do not think this is anything other than a complement! I love Heavy Dooooty… who doesn’t? If you compare the two, you will see I am right.
And as we watch him perform we decide that Nichols is the most leonine creature that has ever stepped onto a stage… part Mufasa, part Aslan and part Narasimha — the lion-maned ‘Great Protector’ who comes to care for his blues-rock devotees.
And, appropriate to the surroundings, ( Woody’s bar is a side-room at the Robin 2) bassist Gregg Cash looks like an addled version of Roy Wood… full of body buzz and cactus juice. His ever twisting, circus contortions hypnotize the crowd, and his play is a storm of chewing and trembling fretwork, but attention still gets diverted back to the explosion of poise that is Jared James. He lifts the crowd with “End of Time” from Black Magic and provides well-chiselled chunka-chunks of hunkaa-hunkaa guitar. This has an iron-beam riff from Nichols and a blunt and hammering infrastructure produced by Dennis Holm on the drums.
Later, the Mountain rock-classic “Mississippi Queen” is a tempest of dexterity with flaming guitar and a glow of cordial vocals. And as the band prepare for more, the venue hushes: “So quiet…” remarks Gregg.
“We’re performers in a distant land…” says Jared. It’s almost as if the crowd is scrutinizing and evaluating every movement they make. It must be very disconcerting… but they get on with it…
It seems the rampant man-lion is more than up-to-the-mark. “He cuts the mustard…” a Black Country townie tells me, as he shouts the words into my inner ear using the curious local yam-yam vernacular: “Bostin’ — the best thing I’ve seen in yonks...”
To be honest, I’m not sure if the hook-up with the Phil Lewis version of LA GUNS was totally appropriate or even mutually beneficial for either band… if anything Nichols kinda usurped the Hollywood knights. (Stone Trigger was more positively glam -metal, and a better judged choice for support) — but that’s as maybe.
This was the best blues-rock performance we’ve seen in a long while… with a remarkable young guitarist who’s every inch a rock superstar-messiah in the making…