If you wanted an early clue as to which way tonight’s gig will be looking, the sound of ‘Voodoo Ray’ oozing out of the PA to the gathering bright young things and slightly duller auld codgers proves a valuable indication as Jagwar Ma set their Hacienda smiley faced stall out early. As they kick off with ‘What Love’ the effect continues, the set moving through their old school influences. What’s produced resembles what it would sound like if you chucked The Farm, the Neds, Carter, and a slice of EMF into a blender, set it on pulse and added a dash of Black Grape.
When they hit their stride though they hit it good, especially with the washed out acid bliss of ‘The Throw’. Then there are segments of the gig where the band lose momentum and the crowd’s attention begins to waver and by the time proceedings finish with the bouncier than Zebedee pogo-sticking on a trampoline, psych pop of ‘Let Her Go’ (compete with obligatory extended wig out) the dance floor is tellingly emptier than it was at the beginning of the night. The problem is perhaps that Jagwar Ma are reminiscent of Poochie, the cartoon character created by a committee in The Simpsons. Too many “cool”, “groovy” and “totally rad to the max” boxes are ticked. They flit through styles and it leaves one with that faintly nagging headache you get when you’ve spent too long channel surfing in the junk yard of satellite channels.
There’s a line in LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” that talks about “borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties”. Move that forward a few years and you’ve got Jagwar Ma. Maybe nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be.
Photo: Derek Kennedy