Jack’s Not Smooth at The Vic Inn, Derby

The more I get to meet and work with bands from Manchester, the more I’m convinced there’s something pretty special in the water (Bristol, too, but I’ve said that before). They quite simply don’t seem to be able to do much wrong. They clearly think differently, and as Jack’s Not Smooth come off stage I hear them saying it was the worst show they’d done in a while, this was wrong, that was off, such and such could’ve been better. “Well,” I told them, “I liked it.”

The only really flaw I could see in the show was that they were missing their bassist, who had to work the evening, so to say it still went well despite that only adds to their talent. The crowd didn’t hold back in expressing what they thought of the band, and if I liked it, they must have been having the time of their life. What struck me most was when their vocalist, Dylan, asked the crowd who’d heard of them, there was a resounding silence through the room. To have such an impression on a crowd who hadn’t even heard of them before says something about the band, don’t you think?

Where on the EP I criticised the mix and proportions of harsh and soft vocals, in the live show I was pretty impressed by them. At any moment I expected Tom’s voice to crack and the songs to lose moment due to the strain he must have been putting on it, but that never came. I felt the backing vocals may have been a little lacking – whether that was a technical or vocal problem I couldn’t tell – but it hardly deducted from the overall show. They had energy, my gosh, they had an abundance of it, and that’s one of the biggest things you need in the early years of playing gigs – along with music people want to listen to, of course.

Everything that I had disliked on the EP seemed to fit better as a live performance – they seemed to take on the music and enjoy what they were doing; they do say that if the band’s having a good time, the audience will, and the audience certainly were. To say there were only 60 odd people in the room doesn’t sound much, but it the room that size, it’s full, and every single person was having a good time – despite their self-depreciating comments, it was a bloody good show.

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