Reverend And The Makers proved to be seasoned veterans at Bristol.
As chilling as it may be, Jon McClure (The Reverend) and his comrades (The Makers) are perilously close to becoming music industry veterans. At least according to recognizable criteria.
The forthcoming Heatwave In The Cold North is the seventh studio album by Reverend And The Makers in sixteen years, which itself follows the Best Of of 2019. Sobering facts, to be sure.
However, the experience has its demonstrable benefits in his live show; After a couple of supporting acts in the form of Supergrass drummer Danny Goffey (hard-hitting pub-punk rock) and Ramona Flowers (80s electro-pop), McClure and company use the best tricks of the trade early on in a A jam-packed set, like the slow keyboard notes of the title track of 2007 debut The State Of Things, succinctly build the atmosphere before the song’s Streets-meets-ska bop really kicks in.
Soon after, McClure astutely gauges the crowd’s ability to interact by dividing them into a few ‘nah-nah-nahs’ in the appropriately sun-kissed 18-30; Not much help is required because a) it’s Friday night and b) the love Reverend And what The Makers gets from its audience is unconditional.
Still, they’re taking no chances, with the set’s backbone comprised of debut tracks embellished with select cuts from their career and a sprinkling of new material: the title track is Marvin Gaye-inspired soul, while High (a self-proclaimed side B, whose subject is unambiguous) is deliberately neglected.
I Hate It When You Lie is a Dre-infused slice of hip-hop, while Problems features an appearance by Ramona Flowers’ Steve Bird, who McClure gives a big credit for helping with songwriting.
He also frequently thanks the crowd for following Reverend And The Makers (when he’s not making them laugh). At one point, the frontman wryly observes that it might have been smarter to tour after the album’s release than before, and when introducing Auld Reekie Blues, he admits his jealousy when the song was played on BBC 6Music (having been written by guitarist Ed Cosenses).
Further proof, if any, of what a good ass McClure is occurs early in the set when he follows through on a promise made on Twitter earlier in the day and motions for a 9-year-old boy and his mother to watch the show from a side. From Stage
Though comprised of 21 songs, the set moves at a breakneck pace: lithe Bandits make the crowd jump like Madness in her prime, Hacienda tribute Shine A Light doubles down, Mr Glassalfempty (from the criminally underrated Mirrors) it’s anthemic and therefore sang along with, but not a match for, the uplifting Open Your Window or its title track Heavyweight Champion Of The World.
Even the more reflective numbers, like the brutally lyricized Hard Times For Dreamers, are enthusiastically received, with McClure leading the crowd at every turn.
On and on: the ravey Bassline is monstrous, No Soap In A Dirty War wakes up the troops while Howard Marks’ voicemail snippet intro to MDMAmazing receives some of the biggest applause of the night.
It’s by no means a one-person show, with Laura Manual on keys and backing vocals providing some neat moves, Ed Cosens driving through the set with determination and enthusiasm while Ryan Jenkinson and Antonia Pooles provide stoic and compelling percussion.
The main set culminates with a bombastic Silence Is Talking, without an encore as such. However, as has become the tradition, McClure leaps offstage, acoustic guitar in hand, to take a place outside (after a well-deserved smoke break) for a rendition of A Message To You Rudy, respectfully dedicated to Terry Hall.
Sadly, the acoustic set is cut short, presumably due to security restrictions (with the crowd pouring out), but it manages to leave the crowd wanting more.
Another of the many tricks from Reverend and the Makers’ impressive arsenal.