Jason Manns - Avenue Hotel
Live Review

Jason Manns – Avenue Hotel, Portsmouth / Portland Arms, Cambridge

Jason Manns is known to his friends and fellow musicians as ‘Angel Voice’, and deservedly so. That voice is sweeter than honey and richer than cream with the ability to bury itself deep inside those who listen. His regular Sunday night performances at Lscorpion, in Los Angeles, have a good following. In the UK, however, he is not as well known as he ought to be, but with such spell-binding performances as those which started this, his first UK tour it is to be hoped that his name will soon start to register with more people.

His vocals are warm and sweet, with a phenomenal range; enviable lung capacity and enough power in the voice to make the air in the room vibrate so that it is possible to feel it in your toes. His unassuming nature is endearing, but it’s that voice which draws the audience closer.

What is his style of music? Well rock certainly, but there’s a folk influence too, with slight edges of country, blues and soul – but whatever you choose to call it, it is purely good music.

The beautiful vocal on ‘Your Song’ (not to be confused with Elton John’s song of the same name) appears effortless, as does the mellow guitar accompaniment, sweet without being cloying; soulful enough for blues, and warm enough to chase away the cold November night.

Changing up the tempo for ‘Another Number’ again with the amazingly clear sounding vocal – so sharp and clear it’s almost crystalline – gets the room rocking. ‘Journey’ has people singing along.

A cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Crazy Love’ is stunning and perfectly executed, making you forget the original, ‘Tracks of my Tears’ and ‘Cupid’ never sounded as good as this before, did they?

Two or three new songs make their first outing to an appreciative audience. One in particular, about returning to your old stamping grounds and finding that you don’t feel the same about them any more is beautiful with a haunting melody and I long to applaud at the end – but Jason segues straight into another song and we have to save our applause for both songs until the end. We want it to go on forever, but of course it can’t – though many of the audience are going to every date on the tour to preserve the good times as long as they can.

This is definitely a first tour to be proud of. To borrow some of his lyrics, Jason’s journey is certainly under way. Catch the rest of the tour if you can. You won’t be sorry.

A band called ‘The Life of Riley’ ought to be having lots of fun, and this was certainly the case with Riley and Henri. Even though they were minus the other half of the band they managed to rip it up and have a high old time, and in doing so provided one for their audience too.

Supporting Jason Manns on his first ever UK tour, they gave a magnetic performance. Riley’s whiskey and honey voice and rhythm guitar and Henri’s effervescent lead guitar were scintillating. All this despite only having arrived in the country a few hours earlier -and in Riley’s case having spent all of the previous day filming an episode of ‘Criminal Minds’.

Having started the tour well, like a good wine they continued to improve. By Sunday the performance was even more rounded and well honed. It was clear that they had relaxed some more and found themselves a groove that made what had been a good time on Friday a fabulous one on Sunday.

Playing original songs from their first album,’The Life of Riley’ and a few that haven’t yet made it to the recording studio, they showcased their rocking sound perfectly. The songs are infectious. I defy anyone to hear ‘Trouble’ and not be joining in by the final chorus, or to hear the anecdotal ’86’ and not find themselves envisioning a small town American childhood and relating it to their own experiences.

All of this bodes well for the other five dates on this short first tour. It is to be hoped that they’ll be able to come back soon so that we can all share ‘The Life of Riley’ once again. For more information visit the LOR website: [link]

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