Whether it was the energy from their devoted fans, the thrill of being back on stage together, or the perfect combination of both, The Philly Jays are still a kickass band with a hell of a live show.
It was late 2010 when I last caught the Philly Jays at The Cambridge in Newcastle. Through the foggy haze of memory (and possibly gin), I recall a particularly rambunctious and wild performance, played out in front of a hefty crowd of passionate punters. It was hot, it was fun, it was loud, it was the Philly Jays.
Last night, Philadelphia Grand Jury made their humble return to The Cambridge for the first time since their indefinite spilt in 2011. With quite a small turn out, I feared this would not be the kind of show I remembered, and wanted, it to be…
Those fears were loudly, raucously, and wholeheartedly quashed three notes in to the first song. The energy, the quirk, the boisterousness, MC Bad Genius’ crazy eyes… It was all still there! The Philly Jays have still got it.
Though the crowd may have been small, they were 100% committed, thrashing and bouncing and singing along to their favourite and unforgettable anthems like ‘The Good News’ , ‘I Don’t Want To Party (Party)’ and ‘Going To The Casino’.
The electricity of the room was palpable, and this level of hype was a constant throughout the whole set. Even when the guys threw a new song from their yet to be released album into the mix, the crowd continued to unabashedly show their love for anything The Philly Jays could offer up.
Philadelphia Grand Jury have always been known to put on a show, and you can tell they genuinely have fun when they’re up on stage, you can feel it. The ever-irreverent MC Bad Genius tends to steal the show with his chaotic movements across the stage and his outlandish facial expressions, leering wide-eyed at the audience and hammering on the keys.
At one point, the lead singer Berkfinger ran into some guitar issues, having broken a string on his first guitar with the back-up guitar not up to scratch. He put the call out to the audience if anyone could come up and help change a guitar string, to which a young guy named ‘Joe’ obliged and conquered (thanks Joe).
In a way, this type of gig where the band and the audience can connect and converse in between songs is kind of the beauty of being amongst a smaller audience. It removes that feeling of drastic separation that you often get at bigger shows, and you get the chance to exist on the same level.
When you experience first-hand the love that remains for a band who haven’t been on the scene for some time, it doesn’t matter if there were 50 in the room or 500. You just appreciate these three guys on stage as great musicians, who have written some killer hit songs, and give their performance everything they’ve got no matter what.
Here’s hoping the Philly Jays will be back again soon with a brand spankin’ new second album, and a reclaim of the cult-like following they had at their peak.