Jared James Nichols - Manchester Club Academy, 25th February 2018

Photo credit: Gary Gilmurray
Photo credit: Gary Gilmurray

If you think the blues scene has long since seen better days, then where on earth have you been hiding? There’s a plethora of latter-day blues acts criss-crossing the country on an almost daily basis, such as Dan Patlansky, King King and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Another is Jared James Nichols, a mighty fine proponent of the genre and master showman to boot. Considering his hometown is Waukesha, the birthplace of Les Paul, it’s little wonder he plays a rather battered looking, customised single pick-up Epiphone Les Paul guitar. But it has a name, Old Glory, and an entire personality of its own. And he plays it without pick too. "It allows me to create different tones and textures," he tells me post-gig. "And I like feeling the strings under my fingers." In a sweaty, dark and crammed room, the American blues rock guitarist and his band take to the dimly lit and sparse stage. Dressed in sleeveless shirt, black waistcoat, rolled up jeans and boots, Jared cuts an imposing figure with his tattoos, mane of long blond hair and his obvious height advantage.

Photo credit: Gary Gilmurray

In support of his latest album, Jared and company play no fewer than five tracks from his latest and rather excellent Black Magic album, released in October 2017. It’s blues rock, low down and dirty, and very much what the doctor ordered. The set opens with Last Chance and Don’t Be Scared, both from the new long player, and sounding every bit as good, if not better, than the album originals. The energy and passion is palpable, and the crowd are lapping it up like there’s no tomorrow. Haywire allows the powerhouse of drums and bass to kick into a medium-paced groove, while End Of Time and Run, both from the new album, give Jared free reign lay down some masterful guitar work.  Can You Feel It? is quite simply stunning, starting with a very infectious drum shuffle that keeps up the pace throughout, and features an audience participation call-and-answer section that has the room eating out of his hand. The Gun, final track from the most recent album and favourite with Planet Rock Radio, brings the band to the set closer: a tight and powerful Mississippi Queen, a cover of the Mountain song. "We’re not from England," Jared declares during the set, "but we f@@@@@g love playing here, man. Cheers Manchester!"


Gary Gilmurray 

Photo credit: Gary Gilmurray
Photo credit: Gary Gilmurray
Photo credit: Gary Gilmurray