I’m a sucker for a band that enjoys performing . . . especially without pretense. I’m a bigger sucker for a band that feeds off the audience and uses that energy to shift into an even higher gear. For both of Jamestown Revival’s shows at The Basement in 2014, the foregoing absolutely occurred. But, two-and-a-half years later, could they accomplish that again at the A&R Music Bar (on a night when Todd Rundgren was playing next door)?Fortunately for the sold-out crowd, the answer was an unequivocal, “Yes.” If Jamestown Revival is jaded to any degree after three years of constant touring, I did not catch a whiff of it.
I was first exposed to Jamestown Revival in 2014 when I heard DJ Mike Marrone play "Home" on SiriusXM’s The Loft. The band is comprised of Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay (best friends since 15, which Clay announces at each show). I enjoyed the harmonies and the hook. I picked up the album and found something enjoyable about each track. Once I saw the band perform live, my appreciation grew even deeper.
As Jonathan Clay noted four songs in, “We’re out of The Basement this time, Columbus!” - leaving no doubt that his appreciation and memory of his prior visits to Columbus was genuine. This energy is pervasive throughout Jamestown Revival’s solid supporting cast as well.
Armed with plenty of new material from 2016’s The Education of a Wandering Man, the band played a balanced set of the familiar and the new. Although, with the way the audience sang along, it was evident that even the new is already familiar.
After six energetic songs, the band played a poignant version of “Golden Age,” off of the band’s 2014 debut album, Utah. Clay then asked the crowd whether they should play another mellow song, or get “rowdy.” With “rowdy” being the obvious choice, the band launched into the energetic “Headhunters.” They then followed that with the slower, but equally intense, burn of the more recent “Love is a Burden.” The night peaked next with seemingly every attendee singing the band’s first single, “California.”
Jamestown Revival is also so likable because of the covers they choose. In 2014, they treated the audience to “Born on the Bayou” by Creedence Clearwater Revival and “Kentucky” by the Everly Brothers. This time around, they played one of John Prine’s best: “Paradise,” and then started their encore with “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young.
The only flat spot of the evening occurred when the band closed their regular set with “Head On.” On this song, Clay and Chance sing the chorus off-microphone—letting the song build as the crowd joins in and sings along. During their previous shows in The Basement, this was a high point; the crowd all participated, becoming one with the band (even though “Head On” was unreleased at the time). This time around, however, the noisiness of A&R Music Bar stifled the moment, with many in crowd more focused on capturing the moment on their phones than participating. Nevertheless, this was only a minor hiccup in an otherwise excellent set.
Jamestown Revival displays all the signs of a band that will continue to grow and mature. Hopefully they never lose the joy they are experiencing while playing, and will soon be playing even bigger venues in the near future.