Recently I posted my review of London ska punks Just Say Nay's incredible debut album Maximum Effort. The album was officially released on Friday October 11th. To celebrate, the band, with the help of Be Sharp Promotions, had a launch party at the New Cross Inn. To help celebrate, the band asked long time friends Triple Sundae, King Punch and Lucias from Call Me Malcolm to support. It was shaping up to be a very memorable night!
Fresh from finishing a tour with The Slackers the night earlier, Lucias Malcolm took to the New Cross stage to start the evening off. This was a rare acoustic performance for Lucias and one that I was rather looking forward to. It was nice to see a sizeable crowd gathered early, eager to see him. Playing stripped back songs taken from Call Me Malcolm's wonderful I Was Broken When You Got Here, the set was full of big sing-alongs – including the brass parts being sung loudly back at the stage. It was really a great experience hearing so many songs that I love played in a different manner. More acoustic shows please, Lucias.
When we had arrived at New Cross earlier in the evening, we had discovered that King Punch would actually be playing an after party set so up next was the main event. The New Cross Inn was now completely full to see Just Say Nay play Maximum Effort in full alongside some old favourites. If you don't already know, Just Say Nay are a nine piece so at times squeezing them all on stage can be a bit of a logistical nightmare (pun very much intended). To make a little bit more room for himself, bass master Leo placed a stool next to the stage and proceeded to play the set with one foot on the stage and the other on the stool. That's the sort of nonsense you get at a DIY show. From the moment they started their set, Just Say Nay just blew everyone in the room away. It was clear that a lot of people in the room had been listening to Maximum Effort during the day as each song got superb receptions. There was so much love and excitement around the room during the set, I'm not sure I've been to many gigs ever with a more positive and uplifting attitude. I'm always amazed by how energetic Just Say Nay manage to be on stage, given how little room that have. They find a way though and their energy quickly projected into the crowd. The room was skanking immediately and it wasn't long before there was a constant stream of crowdsurfers. Midway through the set, things got emotional as the band took a moment to remember their good friend Mike Crampton who sadly passed away in 2017. Luke May, a friend of the band, joined them on stage to perform his poem Two Empty Glasses which appears on Maximum Effort before the band jumped into their own tribute to Mike – the absolute banger that is Don't Let The Coffee Grind You Down. Highlights of the set for me were With A Twist Of Lemon, the song where trombone player Mikey T gets the crowd to yodel/chant/shout along with him. Normally at this stage, Mikey takes on the role of a preacher character but for this occasion he was his humble self and asked the crowd if they would crowd surf him during the song as he's always wanted to. Of course, the crowd obliged and it created an awesome spectacle. Other highlights for me were Butterfingers (which is surely going to be a single at some point?), Techno Guilt and the classic Low Blow where I accidentally ran into the pit, forgetting how ruined my wrist currently is (Whoops!). The absolute highlight was their final song, Kuromouri. The song is an eight minute long epic that I've been really excited to hear live since I first got to hear it on a promo copy of Maximum Effort. I was absolutely astonished by this performance – it was amazing. I wish I had better words to really explain just what a moment it was. I'm not sure how often the band will play it live as it is so long but I do hope they are able to bust it out on regular occasions. During their own set, King Punch took the time to say how this was the very best version of Just Say Nay they had ever seen and I'm sure the whole room will agree with that sentiment. If you haven't checked out Maximum Effort yet, get on with it!
I can't think of many bands in the New Cross scene better to play an after party set than King Punch. The band are always so full of energy and charisma and never fail to get a crowd moving. Unfortunately, the night was running a little behind schedule so we had to miss out on some of their set but had thoroughly enjoyable times dancing to King Punch originals such as Wishbone and Sit Still as well as covers of Walking On Sunshine and I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That). I had a wonderful time dancing along to a band who are quickly becoming one of my favourites to see live. Later in the night, I saw online that the band had got a massive conga line going after we had left that even exited the venue and made its way into the rainy street.
This was a superb night of music spent with wonderful people. When I look back on 2019, it will definitely rank among by favourites of the year. Particularly as that Just Say Nay set where they really announced themselves as one of the leading bands in the scene. I can see Maximum Effort taking them to some very big and exciting things in the coming year. Thanks for a great night JSN!
This gig review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.