Jessica Clemmons, lead singer of Jess and The Bandits, is full of true Southern charm. But, don’t be disarmed by her easy nature, this woman is an authentic and seriously soulful, rocking country star. When I saw the band’s set on Saturday night at Under The Bridge in London, I was struck by the powerful and anthemic nature of the band’s catalogue. The music was loaded with personality and they displayed all the attributes of a strong, confident country band that will go very far. Jess’ stage presence was deeply charismatic; you can plainly see that she is at ease and very happy in her element up there.
They started on a strong, upbeat tempo with ‘Ready Set’ and immediately I thought, ‘This girl can rock!’ The crowd then swelled in towards the stage and were gleefully happy to sing and dance along. Jess has killer control of her voice and it’s just dripping in a luscious gospel flavour. And in between songs she kept the vibe going by getting the crowd to join in a rousing ‘Yee Haw’ a few times and telling them, ‘I like my audience drunk!’ which resulted in an enormous cheering of agreement.
When they got to their single, ‘I’m Not Going Home’, it came across as perfectly as it did on their album and the crowd easily bent to the pull of the music and swayed in tightly. They added a cover of ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’ but delivered it with a bouncier beat that upped the tempo and gave it a more country feel along with the layered, solid harmonies so it blended in befittingly with their set.
Jess has a huge voice and lends a suitable yet subtle drama to her songs like ‘The Bullet’ and ‘White Lies’ that were particularly moving, emotional and quite loving actually. But, when they included another cover song, ‘Love Sneaking Up’, the crowd went a bit wild and rocked along a little harder. The band finished up their set with ‘Single Tonight’ which was reminiscent of an old honky tonk kind of sound and was a big, energetic finish to the live music that night.
Jess and The Bandits put on an exceptional performance and I look forward to seeing them again soon and should you have the opportunity to see them live during their upcoming September tour, take it, you won’t be disappointed!
Tue 12 Sep – Glasgow, King Tuts
Wed 13 Sep – Gateshead, Sage 2
Thu 14 Sep – Cambridge, The Junction
Fri 15 Sep – London, The Borderline
Wed 20 Sep – Norwich, Waterfront Studio,
Thu 21 Sep – Bristol, The Tunnels
Fri 22 Sep – Manchester, Gullivers
Sat 24 Sep – Southampton, Talking Heads
Tue 26 Sep – The Musician, Leicester
Photos by ©PremiumPhotographic