The Jayhawks at Sage, Gateshead on 19th July 2014


The Jayhawks have been making music since the mid-1980’s and came out of the scene around Minneapolis that also spawned Husker Du and the anarchic Replacements. Their sound couldn’t be be more different than those bands but they were just as influential. They’ve quietly produced a fine body of work and have recorded and toured in different incarnations for coming up to 30 years now. Drawing influence from The Band, The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers they have shaped their own unique sound from that maelstrom.

Most of the 1997 touring lineup (Gary Louris, Marc Perlman, Tim O’Reagan, Karen Grotberg and Kraig Johnson) have reunited and landed at the Sage as part of the Americana Festival aiming to reacquaint audiences with their music and highlight the re-release of three crucial albums – Sound of Lies, Smile and Rainy Day Music plus selected material from other periods in the band’s long history. The Jayhawks have made music in 4 different decades and are as vital now as they have been at any part of their illustrious career. They definitely have earned their reputation as a true American treasure.

I’ve had a passing interest in the band and have several of their albums but have never seen them live before, so this gig is a chance for me to see if they are as good as their reputation suggests. There’s no doubt that they are superb musicians and they have a tough punchy sound tonight but there’s not much interaction with the crowd, but that doesn’t seem to matter much, the music speaks for itself. They deliver an excellent set with highlights like “Angelyne”, “Tampa to Tulsa” and we felt the heat of the a Hawks during a stirring “If I Only I Had a Car”. Support artist Marc Ford, late of the Black Crowes (who rambled on far too much during his own set) played some fine guitar on one tune and Chuck Prophet, who played his own set on Friday night, got up to play a few short fiery licks on “I’d Run Away”.

There were a couple of heads bouncing around in the pit but for the most part the crowd are fairly sedate. They end on a rousing “Tailspin” to loud applause.

I’m impressed enough to move the three albums mentioned above into my Amazon basket – but I haven’t bought them – yet!

Reviewer: Greg Johnson

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