Anglo American country outfit Jess and the Bandits have become somewhat of regular visitors to the North East of England in recent times.

Following multiple appearances at the SummerTyne Americana Festival as well as several headline shows in Hall 2 at the Sage Gateshead, the group were set to make a return to the venue last year. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans with Hurricane Harvey resulting in Jessica Clemmons understandably returning to the US to attend to urgent matters at home. Tonight the Texan powerhouse vocalist and her trusty bandits make an eagerly anticipated return to Tyneside as part of their rescheduled UK tour.

As Jess and the Bandits hit the stage they start the show with a couple of huge numbers from their debut album in the shape of the powerful “My Name Is Trouble” and the deeply emotive “You Can’t Stop Me”, which sets the tone for the night ahead.

Jessica Clemmons declares her affection for Gateshead stating that the North is like the Southern USA, everyone is so friendly and up for a party, and that sentiment certainly strikes a chord with the locals many of whom dance the night away.

Since the group’s last appearance in the region, they’ve released their excellent sophomore album Smoke and Mirrors. This being a record which sees this incredibly talented five-piece push their creative boundaries somewhat; a sentiment which Clemmons echoes stating that the group didn’t want to make the same album twice.

Throughout the course of the show, Clemmons and company showcase their latest offering with the lion’s share of the album featuring in the show. New tracks like the sultry “Kiss Me Quiet” and the Dolly Parton-esque “Gone Girl” really stand out in the set. These songs are so incredibly infectious they have the potential to become mainstream radio hits. On the other hand, the group showcase the rockier side of their musical palette with a combustible rendition of “Line of Fire”.

Jess and the Bandits take the opportunity to put their own distinctive country stamp on Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not To Come”, which features some superb vocal harmonies and fancy fretwork from guitarist Luke. Subsequently, a blues-heavy performance of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Sneaking Up On You” is one of the many highlights of the show. The multifaceted Clemmons proves that she can take any song, from any musical style/genre and do it well.

Despite the emphasis on the band’s new material, of course, there is still plenty of room for old favourites. This includes the likes of fan favourite “Nitty Gritty”, the beautiful “Love Like That” and the anthemic “Ready Set”. The latter of which closes out the main set.

Returning to the stage for a duly deserved encore Jess and the Bandits declare a late addition to the set in the shape of a stunning cover of the late Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman”, during which Clemmons truly showcases her incredible vocal range before the night is brought to a close with crowd pleaser “Single Tonight”.

Jess and the Bandits continue to go from strength to strength. With the group’s latest offering Smoke and Mirrors, there is certainly no signs of any second album slump here.

Jess And The Bandits
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Event Date: 16-Feb-2018

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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