Just Jack - 53 Degrees Preston - 30.11.06

Think you know about rap then think again. It's not just about gangsters, guns, girls, bling, machismo and the fight for survival. De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Arrested Development and many others too numerous to mention showed you can be spiritual, sensitive, witty, ironic and honest while still producing great music and keeping your integrity in tact. If Mike Skinner's
outfit are The Streets then Just Jack are the Suburbs, more middle class and slightly older but still riddled with the same self doubt, neurosis and frustrations we all face in life. This unthreatening, open and friendly chap can't help but break into a smile when rapping and my eyes light up as a dusky, raven haired beauty stands by him with a voice smooth as silk, a soul
siren who's naturally at home performing on stage.

Just Jack are quite jazzy, chilled out, laid back but have the funk in abundance. The London rapper has a way with the crowd welcoming them into his world, an open invitation to the best party this city has experienced for many years. It may be Just Jack's final date of the tour but their hunger to perform doesn't seem to have waned at all. Whether the songs are about a life story or someone talking too much, like a hip hop take on Chas and Dave's Rabbit, there's a Jamiroquai style soulful funk edge, pop joyful and effervescent. The band are given full rein to jam and improvise with an axe wielding guitar solo worthy of Slash and a drumming masterclass similar to Buddy Rich.

Brand new song, not featured on the forthcoming album, "Goth In The Disco" has LOL lyrics, a techno template in the spirit of the Scissor Sisters and hand claps so addictive that the crowd join in straight away. "Writers Block" has vocoder vocal backing from the synth player and rhyming Mary Jane from Spiderman to Superman's Lois Lane is the lyrical couple of the gig. Poking fun at the encore ritual by coming back on seconds after departing the stage, Just Jack tell us that they had a Wayne's World moment in their van on the way up to the venue upon hearing their latest single on radio, shaking their heads in time to the music. It's only fair that "Stars In Your Eyes" is performed right at the end, a disco tinged satire on reality talent shows when contestants go from hero to zero. Just Jack will always be on of your heroes, there's no doubting that

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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