There’s really nothing like a good, old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll show, is there? Guitars, bass and drum; light show; stacks of speakers; and a band from a far-away place.
I saw Jet at Irving Plaza last night, and am still slightly recovering. What a terrific concert! Plus, it’s possible that I drank too much.
For those of you not familiar with them, Jet is an Australian foursome, a straight-up rock band from Melbourne who, in rock’s grand tradition, rips off just about everyone you can think of: AC/DC, the Stones, Aerosmith, Steve Miller, the Beatles, Oasis, even Bachman Turner Overdrive. And yet they put their own spin on things and somehow come out sounding new.
They are also young, loud, energetic and brash. At the beginning of their second song, the shirtless drummer announced that they’d just heard “that Justin Timberlake song” on the radio. Pause. “This is how you write a real fucking song, Timberlake, you cunt,” he announced.
Why is it that Brits/Aussies can use the c-word humorously and Americans can’t?
The question actually goes to the heart of some profound differences in the various streams of Anglo-culture, relating to the sense of bittersweet irony that comes either with being a post-imperial nation or descendants of convicts. After January 2009, perhaps we will have a greater understanding of this.
But I digress.
Meanwhile, lead singer/lead guitarist Nik Cester prowled the stage in classic rock star garb, scarf around his neck, playing a beautiful Gibson guitar…beautifully. As the show went on, the band got locked in, playing faster, tighter, and, it seemed, louder. Increasingly covered in sweat, Cester urged the crowd to clap, played fiery solos, and stepped in front of the microphone into the crowd. The climax came when he launched into a long, solo intro to “Cold Hard Bitch,” one of the greatest rock songs of the past decade, and climbed up onto a small ledge near the balcony, the spotlight chasing to catch up to him. About a minute of staccato power chords, then a second guitar, then drums and bass, leading to a musical crescendo, and a primal rock scream, before a single lyric is sung: “Yeah!” A full-throated roar, stretched out for about ten seconds.
I am not so far removed from adolescenceâor adolescence is not so far removed from meâthat this kind of thing doesn’t send shivers down my spine.
You can stream Jet’s new album, “Shine On,” at their MySpace page. (I love the new single, “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.”) Have a listen. If there’s any justice in the rock world, these guys are going to be huge.