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Show Review: Jimmy Swift Band - May 26th, 2006 - Ottawa, ON

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Jimmy Swift Band

Barrymore's Music Hall, Ottawa, Ontario

May 26th, 2006

Show Review

By Lara Purvis

Canada's east coast always manages to serve up musical gems. Such are Jimmy Swift Band. With over several years under their belt, playing and touring, they are not letting up. They played a face-melting show at Barrymore's in Ottawa. If the goal was to remind Ontarians of their existence and excite folks about their upcoming album, it worked. The show took fans on a journey through darkness and brilliance. In true JSB style they threw it down hard and left us waiting for their return.

Opening for the Jimmy Swift Band was Sojourn, Ottawa locals. A young up-and-coming band, you can feel their intent, an ambitious band committed to making their way in the world of rock. With the energy and nerve of youth, they served up a treat of an opener. Their current lineup of songs, while definitely enjoyable, were not particularly memorable. The slower pieces seemed to drag and the overall picture - the raging moves, the bass player with mystique, the very current sound - smelled a bit of trying too hard. But who can blame them? This band will be interesting to watch as they evolve and grow. Whether they make it out of Ottawa's west-end remains to be seen. The world of rock is a fickle one.

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Jimmy Swift Band show opened with a guitar roar, the sound of Harleys on the highway, backed by the ground-shaking kickdrum - the intro to Daisy. Within moments we were solidly immersed in intense rock. Rather than the first song of the night, it felt as if we'd walked in the midshow. The instant intensity of the music, crisp and loud was like a slap across the face. My initial words to the one standing beside me, "It's like they just grew up!"

They followed Daisy with The Ark, which swung between Ozzy-style rock and electronica, Craig's voice was strong supported by Aaron, loose and assured on keys. When Worlds Collide, a long instrumental piece, didn't carry the same intensity but it was an appreciated ambient break before Weight of the World - a slow heavy rock piece with impressive drumming by Nick. Running High continued the dark raging insanity, the band throwing themselves into every note. Some people are born to be rockstars. Craig Mercer is clearly one of them. Two Hands on the Wheel is carried by Mike's edgy baseline. This was followed by Ceilidh, which was perfectly placed. After the darkness it shone brightly - beautiful, flowing, rhythmic and heady, it called us to dance and lose ourselves for the moment. Turn Around allowed the crowd a breather, heads bobbing as JSB continued to pour it out. For the first time ever, I felt Craig was entitled to the eagle-eyed disdainful look he gave the crowd as he took a swig of his beer before jumping into Medicine Chest, a made-for-radio pop-rock song. The 80's Runway Model was a highlight, a dancing dreamland of raging guitar and flowing keys. They closed with Road Rage, a testosterone-charged 80's style rock song with a soaring guitar solo.

The show had been an emotional rollercoaster ride and needed to wide down. But to the disappointment of the crowd there was no encore. Confused, we waited.till it slowly dawned on us. Reluctantly the crowd dispersed. Later it was discovered that this was due to the venue's instructions to which Nick replied, "We'd have played another 5 hours if it was up to us, but 'dems the breaks."

Despite the fact that I was disappointed over the early night and the lack of an encore, the night was still a good one. Jimmy Swift Band impressed me more than every before. Their signature sound, a techno-rock fusion, has matured. They have become very good at what they do. They filled the stage with a presence much larger than was called for. That fact combined with their dance-your-socks-off tunes says to me that they are capable of much more. They have always had an aggressive driving sound, with top notch musicianship, but tonight their cohesiveness was off the map. No one band member outdid the other in intensity; with an air of desperation they pushed each other further and further. Nick, the drummer and newest member to the band, seems to be the obvious catalyst in JSB turning it up a notch. Together with Mike dominating the bass, they opened up a space - fully supporting Craig as he wailed into the microphone and Aaron, always a highlight, running loose like a wildman across the keys.

The Jimmy Swift Band has been on the road for the better part of ten years. You'd never guess it though; from the first moment of the show they brought it with energy that outmatched even the starry-eyed babies that played before them. The added element to their technical proficiency is the emotion they invest in their music - the moments that grab your soul as the music soars. This night they played with the urgency of ones knowing that their moment in the limelight was long overdue. And it is.

Set List:


The Ark

When Worlds Collide

Weight Of The World

Running High

Two Hands On The Wheel

Ceilidh (Running Through The Tall Grass)

Turn Around

Medicine Chest

The '80s Runway Model

Road Rage

Taped by BradM (Much appreciated!)


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