Ten years ago, a Jesus Jones show at a club the size of the Engine Room would have been a VIP only show with legions of fans being turned away. However, on this night there was plenty of space to be filled and an open door to the club hoping to attract people who heard the music.
Jesus Jones, after taking a few years off, have reunited and released a new album, London, which has slipped under the radar of radio and press, despite being a solid album. With no airplay and little press, the band has taken to the road to promote the album the old-fashioned way, touring.
On this night, I counted a crowd quite a bit shy of one hundred people. This included guests of the openers, as well as a few members of the opening bands. A lot could have been contributed to this lack of support, it was Father’s Day, it was Sunday or it was a big day for concerts in Houston, all of which were true, but these did not help the band fill the club.
As the curtain opened, the fans of the band made their way to the front of the stage to be greeted by the opening track from London, “Message.” The lyrics seemed to make sense more in this venue than they did on album. So many people were unsure of this band’s current existence that a wake-up call was definitely needed.
Touring as a four-piece, keyboard player Ian Baker elected to stay home and do his day job, Jesus Jones brought a more rock oriented set as opposed to the electronically based music they were known for in the past. This did little to hinder the band's ability to convey their songs in a fashion which appealed to the audience member.
Despite the poor turnout, the band looked happy to be playing. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Edwards took some time between songs to make jokes and introduce Darren the DAT Player, which took Baker’s spot on the tour as keyboard music provider.
Playing a blend of songs from their all their releases, Edwards and company went through their 17-song set in about 75 minutes. Jesus Jones shunned their last major label release, Perverse, for the most part to play a large portion of their debut Liquidizer. These songs fit the rock theme splendidly.
At one point in the set the band went through a track from each album. “Info Freak,” from Liquidizer, kicked it off and it progressed with “Nowhere Slow” from London, the crowd pleaser “Real, Real, Real” from Doubt and “Zeroes and Ones” from Perverse wound it down.
This section of the set demonstrated the seamless transition from past favorites to current offerings. The sound of this band remained in tact and the music flowed throughout the set. One could envision this band having a viable future as a 4-piece rock band.
Where most bands would have walked through a set, Jesus Jones played their best and gave everything to the people at the front of the stage. Bassist Alan Doughty dripped with sweat and bounced around like a rubber ball (except for a few shorts from his bass), Edwards and guitarist Jerry DeBorg played off each other well and drummer Tony Arthy kept everything together rather nicely.
This show could have used a few more people in the audience for the band's sake. However, when you're standing at the front of the stage, it doesn't matter if there are 10 or 10,000 people behind you, you just want to see a band play hard. Jesus Jones definitely played hard.