Jared James Nichols
Clearly thrilled to be supporting blue oyster cult, Jared comes out all guns blazing, his taut blues imbued with a surging ZZ top–style southern groove and first class musicianship. With blonde locks flowing, Jared throws shapes as he teases solos that drip with attitude from his guitar whilst his band lay down a backdrop that rolls across the venue like summer thunder. Watching Jared and his easy interaction with the audience, it’s clear that it’s not long now until the support slot will simply be too small to contain his restless energy and sublime guitar work.
From the off, Jared and his band are on fire, and they spare not a moment as they lay into blistering cuts including a sparkling rendition of ‘last chance’, the cracking new single from his forthcoming album, and, by the end Jared is managing the seemingly impossible feat of bringing over Blue Oyster Cult’s none more partisan crowd to his own brand of bruising blues. Maintaining this precarious position, Jared asserts that “Nottingham knows how to rock” (actually an understatement) before pounding into ‘Don’t be scared’, a Slow paced and swampy hard rock blues with a hell-bound back beat and southern vocals. Jared spares just a moment to introduce Eric on bass and Dennis on the drums before heading into an epic ‘baby can you feel it?’ (complete with sing along) before delivering another heavy rock bruiser in the form of ‘playing for keeps’. The show ends, and all too quickly, with ‘Mississippi queen (if you know what I mean)’, before the band exit the stage, even as the last notes of Jared’s concluding solo echo around the venue. It’s not often a support act so completely threatens to eclipse the headliner, but then Jared James Nichols is no ordinary support act. 9
Blue Oyster Cult
Blue Oyster Cult are as classic as rock gets, their influence and legacy assured for as long as rock fans wear lovingly patched denim, but even so this tour (celebrating the band’s forty-fifth anniversary), is a particularly anticipated outing for the veteran band. With the band’s musicianship beyond question and a back catalogue which contains so many classics that a best of album designed to actually represent the band’s output would surely need at least three CDs the band pull out all the stops for their dedicated and vocal audience.
Kicking off with Transmaniacon MC, Blue Oyster Cult get off to an impressive start, their assured licks and perfectly harmonised vocals flowing over an appreciative crowd. From there it’s straight into ‘the golden age of leather’, a song that increasingly sounds like a hard rock take on Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, particularly in light of its whimsical acapella introduction. Fans who have long listened to the band get the story behind first album highlight ‘Before the kiss, a redcap’ and, from the good-natured cat calls it’s clear the audience appreciate a tale from the dark side of rock ‘n’ roll. A surprise lurks in the shadows, however, and the band, who have been changing the set list nightly, throw in a heavy ‘Harvester of eyes’ just to keep the audience on their toes. It’s this ability to step outside of the programme, when so many bands rely on one, well-honed running order, that sets Blue Oyster Cult apart and it helps to explain their longevity in one of the most notoriously fickle industries in the world.
It’s hard to imagine anyone heading home disappointed from tonight’s gig, although the band couldn’t possibly play every hit even if they weren’t digging into the deeper cuts, and Blue Oyster Cult are clearly as intent on pleasing themselves as they are the audience (a tactic destined to keep their performance fresh night after night). Tracks like ‘she’s as beautiful as a foot’, ‘lips in the hills’ (perfectly suited to Eric Bloom’s girttier vocal approach) and ‘dancin’ in the ruins’ are all dispatched with skill whilst Buck Dharma shines when he has the opportunity to step up and deliver an epic guitar solo. Nonetheless, there’s no questioning the shimmer of anticipation that runs around the room as the band embark upon a set-closing ‘don’t fear the reaper’, only to return for an encore that includes ‘Dominance and submission’ and ‘Hot Rails to hell’. Looking around, there are a lot of happy faces leaving the cramped and sweaty confines of Nottingham’s Rock City and it’s easy to imagine both band and audience returning for the fiftieth anniversary tour. 8
A night of heroic rock ‘n’ roll delivered with aplomb by both Blue Oyster Cult and Jared James Nichols alike, this was a night to remember and Nottingham once again earned its reputation as one of the UK’s most rocking cities.
*Apologies for using Manchester photography, but, for various reasons, our photographer was unnable to shoot the Nottingham gig.