Live Review – JAWS @ Tunbridge Wells Forum (25/04/14)

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Having previously seen and been slightly disappointed by JAWS earlier in the year, I was pleasantly surprised at the Forum on Friday night. The Birmingham based surf-pop quartet, who have previously toured with the likes of Peace and Spector, were both catchy and nonchalant on stage, entertaining the mixture of youthful groupies and intrigued punters who came to see them perform.

Supporting JAWS for the evening were alternative six piece Haus, whose vibrant Foals-esque dance rhythms and tongue-in-cheek vocals were well received by the crowd. Lead singer Jack Bushell was clearly enjoying himself, joking with the rest of the band in between tracks and posing for ‘selfies’ after their set. Haus are unashamedly cheeky and highly infectious, and are surely destined for bigger things.

If Haus are the very epitome of enthusiasm on stage, then JAWS are the polar opposite. Dreamy and mysterious, Connor Schofield and his band appear to have mastered the technique of looking utterly disinterested whilst performing. Languid body language and drawling vocals don’t exactly scream passion, but this is all part of JAWS’ laid-back style.

Opening their set with the slightly lifeless ‘Time’, our hopes weren’t particularly high for what lay ahead. It soon became clear, however, that things were only going to improve. Memorable guitar rifts and hazy shoe-gazing melodies make fan favourites ‘Donut’ and ‘Toucan Surf’ a pleasure to behold, whilst new track ‘Be Slowly’ is a step away from the band’s traditional offhand approach, with a more intense and energetic vibe.

Despite this, it is difficult to escape the feeling that JAWS don’t quite have the conviction of their Midlands based counterparts Peace and Swim Deep. Shoefield is at times, and by his own admission, awkward on stage, failing to connect with the audience, aside from a quip about Tunbridge Wells having ‘a very nice Morrisons’, which brings some laughter from the crowd.

After bizarrely adorning his head with a wet flannel, Schofield returns to his usual reserved self and launches into new single ‘Think Too Much, Feel Too Little’, a chilled and carefree number that sounds like it could have been lifted straight from a Swim Deep record. Much more impressive is ‘Surround You’, with skuzzy rifts and enchanting vocals. The band end the set with ‘Gold’ a fast based and bold track that even manages to stir some emotion in Schofield, who coos ‘Take me where the gold drips from the sun onto my back’ with real intensity and passion as the song reaches a crescendo.

JAWS might have some way to go if they are going to reach the level of live performance achieved by Peace and Swim Deep. Nevertheless, on the basis of this show, it is a task they are more than capable of.

JAWS played:

Time

Donut

Toucan Surf

Be Slowly

Friend Like You

Breeze

Think Too Much, Feel Too Little

Surround You

Stay In

Gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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