This would be a very special night. This would be a night that I didn’t ever expect to happen. This would be a night that in all likelihood could never happen again. Tonight London punks Jesse James were playing a one off gig at The Borderline near Tottenham Court Road.
For those who don’t Jesse James were part of a scene involving the like of 4ft Fingers, Captain Everything, Lightyear and Fletcher in the early part of the millennium. This was around the same time I was discovering underground punk rock and very much grew up on their music. All three Jesse James Album – Punk Soul Brothers, Mission and The Assassination of Jesse James all still receive regular plays on my stereo. Sadly they called it a day after the release of The Assassination Of never to be heard from again. That was until Slam Dunk announced that Jesse James would be playing the festival this year and I fan-girled more than I ever have in my life. At Slam Dunk they played a fantastic set and I assumed that would be that. I was so happy to be wrong. Shortly after the festival they announced the show at The Borderline and I quickly snapped up a ticket.
There was also support announced, another band from that era of UK punk rock, Vanilla Pod from Kings Lynn. I have to admit I wasn’t particularly knowledgeable on Vanilla Pod, I was aware of them from back in the day but never really gave them a proper listen and I absolutely no idea that were still together. When the five piece took to the stage it was clear straight away they were here to have a great time. The Borderline crowd quickly gathered to see them, many of whom were friends from bands who played with them a decade ago. Vanilla Pod’s skate punk sound was fantastic. The pounding drums, rumbling bass lines and aggressive guitars accompanied lead singer Rob’s vocals wonderfully. He spent the majority of the set pacing the front of crowd on the floor smiling as he sung some fantastic lyrics. I have discovered that next year will be Vanilla Pod’s twentieth anniversary as a band and are planning on doing something special. I will be looking out for that.
Up next it was the moment myself and the rest of the now almost full Borderline had been waiting for. It was Jesse James time! Coming on to the theme song to 70’s cop show Hawaii Five-0 I looked around the floor to see a lot of excited faces. When the six members of Jesse James took to the stage you could see they were also excited to play tonight. The great thing about reunion shows is that the bands play a set full greatest hits rather than a set full of newer songs people don’t know so well from a new album they are promoting. Jesse James played like they had been playing constantly since 2007 when they went separate ways. Every song they played sounded note perfect and was played with such enthusiasm. Obviously the band had aged but the energy and passion for the songs were still there. From the first song to the last the crowd were in great voice singing along to every song and dancing along joyfully. Jesse James most popular song Shoes drew a massive sing-along for the Chorus. The whole set was a highlight for me but standout tracks for me were Shoes (obviously), Growin’ Up, First Day On A Brand New Planet and Where Do I Belong. Guitarist Rich Warren that the gig hear and now was where he belonged and I believe many other people in the room felt the same. The band loved that so many people in the room were in old school Jesse James shirts and also showed that despite their time away they were in touch with the current UK punk scene with bass player Donagh O’Leary pointing out people in Random Hand, JB Conspiracy and one particularly handsome chap in an Anti Vigilante tee-shirt. They announced that they were about to play their final song of the night which drew a massive chant of JESSE JAMES! that really touched the band. Throughout the final song Freefall the crowd really went for it. People got on stage, some of the band got in the crowd to join in the dancing, some folk started sat on the floor in a line and did “row the boat” before finally we all took part in a circle pit to round up the night.
This truly had been a great night; it was great to see Jesse James back even if it was just for one night. So many great times were remembered and some more memories were added. On my way home I thought some more about Jesse James and that era of punk rock and got thought, how fantastic would it be for all of those bands from the P-Rock days got together and put on a festival. It would be the actual best day ever! Someone please make this happen!
Now Listening To Freefall by Jesse James