Friday, 8 December 2017

Gig Review: Jaya The Cat at The Camden Underworld 5/12/17

Fresh from recently releasing one of the best albums of the year in A Good Day For The Damned, reggae rockers Jaya The Cat were embarking on a run of the shows in the UK. Jaya The Cat are one of my favourite bands to see live and it has been ages since I've seen them, as they clashed with a King Prawn show last year, so this gig at The Underworld in Camden was a must.

Only one band was supporting Jaya The Cat tonight, the always fantastic Captain Accident and The Disasters from Wales. Because there was just the one support act Emma and I had some time to kill when we got to The Underworld so we checked out the Jaya The Cat merch table. Jaya The Cat seemingly have more t-shirt designs than most shops! I finally got my hands on a vinyl copy of The New International Sound Of Hedonism, my favourite Jaya The Cat album and Emma got herself a new t-shirt featuring a cat and a skull - two of her favourite things. The Jaya The Cat merch lady was one of the friendliest people I've spoken to at a merch table, taking the time to have a brief chat about our recent visit to Berlin. For context, we were talking about Berlin as I mentioned I'd already picked up A Good Day For The Damned at Core Tex Records in Berlin. Anyway, enough with the shopping experience - on with the show!

We first saw Captain Accident and The Disasters back in July at the excellent Level Up Festival at the New Cross Inn and were blown away by the incredible talent on the stage. Again, on a cramped looking Underworld stage, the five piece absolutely killed it. Mixing traditional ska and reggae with a rock edge they were perfect for getting the crowd warmed up. When a band is this good perhaps you only need one support act? The crowd at the Underworld, which already pretty large, took Captain Accident and The Disasters into their hearts and wasted no time in having a dance along with the band. Personally I do prefer the more uptempo ska songs that the band play - they really get my feet going - but I can't help but be mesmerised by the reggae songs as well. Captain Accident and The Disasters are a great band.

Now it was time for Jaya The Cat and by now the Underworld was full. Easily the biggest crowd that I've ever seen for the band, who originally formed in Boston and are now based in Amsterdam. It has been four long years between last album, The New International Sound Of Hedonism, and new banger A Good Day For The Damned and there was plenty of excitement in the building to see those new songs played live. Jaya The Cat wasted no time in playing those new songs, starting their set with new album opener Wine Stained Futon before launching into traditional opener Rebel Sound. From the outset the crowd was moving and there were even some early crowd surfers. It's always great to hear the old favourites such as Twist The Cap, Hello Hangover, Closing Time, Thank You Reggae, Final Solution, Fake Carreras and Here Come The Drums but the real highlights of the set were actually the new songs. Sometimes new material takes some time to get the crowd interested but not on this night. It says something about just how good A Good Day For The Damned is that the songs seemed to get the biggest reactions (save for Fake Carreras which always gets the best reactions). Along with Wine Stained Futon, they played A Rough Guide To The Future, Huddersfield Rain, Amsterdam and Sweet Eurotrash, all of which fit perfectly into the live set. I'm always amazed by the slickness of Jaya The Cat on stage - for a band that have a big reputation for enjoying a heavy drink, they always put on one hell of a show. And every time they get better and better. This was without a doubt the best I've seen them and had me smiling from ear to ear the entire time.

Despite only being two bands on the bill we had a great night. Reggae on a cold December's evening in a dark basement in Camden is a great way to spend a Tuesday. Captain Accident and The Disasters were great but Jaya The Cat put on a masterclass in being one of the best bands around.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

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