Live Review: Philadelphia Grand Jury

9 November 2015 | 2:37 pm | Ran Boss

"Deeper analysis of tone and theme aside, the important thing on the night was that The Philly Jays' live show (still) kicks ass."

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Seeing The Philly Jays at Jive was very much like catching up with old friends: it takes a moment to settle in but, after not long at all, that good old repartee kicks back in and you're wondering why you don't catch up more often. In the case of irrepressible frontman Berkfinger, bass-mountain MC Bad Genius and drum crusher Dan W Sweat, it's probably because they've been kinda reclusive for the last little while, but we're certainly glad to have them back.

Happily, while they haven't been on the road, or even in the country, they have been making new tracks and darn it all if they aren't top notch (must be all that brisk Berlin air). Indeed, the newest release full-length album, Summer Of Doom, was the impetus for the current tour. At Jive on this particular evening, The PJs figuratively kicked in the door and burst through with the explosive Ready To Roll.

The original hipster punks strutted their bearded swag back and forth across the red-velvet stage; the attitude and intensity of the performance is what makes The Philly Jays the cult phenomenon they are. Eternal classics like Going To The Casino (Tomorrow Night), The Good News and Save Our Town spiked energy levels and had the room throbbing in time. Past all that, the fact that so much of the packed crowd was able to sing along with all of the brand new tracks showed pretty clearly the depth of dedication of their fans. Said well-received newer material has the doo-wop soul of incredibly mature composition, while remaining in keeping with the frenetic post-punk the boys are already renowned for.  

There is a definite humility in Philadelphia Grand Jury's lyrics: a heartwarming, frank and fearless take on day-to-day Australian urbanity. The newer material is thematically a touch heavier. Perhaps a reflection on some the band's hiatus experiences, they despair at Australian politics but remain positive with the building chorus on Crashing And Burning Pt II. The upbeat, oscillating strains of Bit Of A Bummer provide another example of this juxtaposition.

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Deeper analysis of tone and theme aside, the important thing on the night was that The Philly Jays' live show (still) kicks ass. Berkfinger set up camp in the crowd for the last couple of tracks, including a well-rehearsed cover that tipped an already frothing crowd over the edge of enthusiasm and into proper rapture territory.