Everytime I listen to the current hits of the day I come away with a catchy tune in my head. Sure it’s auto-tuned, heavily produced, and reliant on a hook rather than things like a melody or a smart lyric but they are catchy nonetheless. And yes, I am big a huge snob about this and no I don’t care.
For me the sign of a good song is one that can embrace change, that can be rendered new by a change in tone, or pace, or instrumentation. Some bands do it to themselves (think Creep by Radiohead, from thrashy distorted guitars to heartfelt acoustic ballad) and some artists grab a handful of such tunes and make a career from twisting and cajoling them into new shapes.
So, to be fair to the popstars of today, it’s safe to say that SOME of their music holds up to that test; when Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Jukebox rolls into town and provides a swing/jazz musical makeover to modern pop songs the results are utterly, bewitchingly, fantastic. Check their Youtube channel for some examples.
But how well would those cover versions hold up live? Well, suffice to say that rarely do I remember smiling so much during a gig, and yes there was no small amount of shimmying too.
Covering tracks like Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Seven Nation Army, Creep, No Surprises, Chandelier, Cry Me A River, Shake It Off and more, the performers delivered time and again. With the main compere, who also sings, and four other singers, plus a tap dancer, to entertain us, whilst the voices may change but the style remains true.
And what voices they are, the main singers all delivered whether giving us a jazz hall smokey rendition of Seven Nation Army (quite possibly my favourite of the evening and not JUST for the amazing shimmering dress), serenading us through Cry Me A River, or big banding their way through Shake It Off, you can’t help but smile, boogie and sing along. Ohhh and the clarinet/saxophone player almost brought me to tears when they stepped in front of the mic for a low key rendition of Creep. One voice and a double bass, stunning.
A far cry from the ‘I’m the rockstar, you are the audience’ affairs you see far too often at the Academy, PMJ turned the entire place into a big house party that just so happened to have an amazingly tight band performing that night, ohhh and your friends just so happen to have a fair set of lungs on them and, hey, you know ALL the songs!
This was my first time seeing PMJ perform live, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect, having only really seen some of their YouTube videos (worth noting that the performers in the videos were not on stage last night, it’s a revolving cast) but I was blown away by the calibre of every person on stage, and the entire experience is (obviously) a whole lot more involving up close and personal although, admittedly, we were right at the very front.
If you get the chance, this is one jukebox that is well worth dropping a few dimes into.