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Any newcomers to Jay Reatard are met with a dauntingly huge back catalogue. This is a man who produces a hell of a lot of material and by our count has released a staggering 24 albums and 34 EPs and 7"s since 1998 (the merch stand is well stocked this evening). Tonight's show helpfully focuses mainly on 2008's releases: the Matador records compilation and the 06/07 Singles collection released on In The Red.
Jay emerges on stage with little flair or fanfare, setting the tone for the evening. It's a fast 'n' furious speed-punk blitz, play fast, play hard, leave quick. That's not to say it's not entertaining, quite the opposite in fact. The stage is filled with Reatard and his two accomplices, both Jay and his guitarist sport flying V Gibson guitars, and from the offset the three of them create a blend of sing-along 'Beck meets The Ramones' style good time rock 'n' roll that leaves feet tapping and teeth showing.
Much is made (specifically on YouTube) of audience members' likelihood of getting kicked or punched from the stage at one of Jay Reatard's shows. The small-ish crowd gathered here tonight were always unlikely to give reason to recreate such an event but it's easy to see how such incidents have arisen in the past. Angry physical outbursts stem from energy and emotion colliding in an unstoppable movement and that's probably the perfect way to sum up the Jay Reatard live show.
'Blood Visions', 'Night Of Broken Glass' and 'All Wasted' fly by at lightspeed with only a precursory scream enlightening the listeners as to the next song title. The simplistic nature of the songs is clearly what leads to such a gargantuan output from Reatard, however what the songs lack in histrionics they make up for in pace and power. 'See Saw' and 'Screaming Hand' as well as 'Always Wanting More' pack an almighty punch which, combining great choruses with Jay's head down, spit-on-the-wall guitar shredding elicit the atmosphere of a night at CBGB's.
By the time 'Oh, It's Such A Shame' comes around the night is at an end and the band leave stage left. It might not be big or clever, but it sure is fun.
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