Around a year and a half ago I saw Jaws perform in a small venue in my hometown. No one sang the words and movement in the crowd was only present when people moved back to the bar. Yet in Newcastle at Think Tank? I wouldn’t have believed the transformation in the kind of crowd the band attracts.
Jaws walk on to ‘I’m Coming Out’, the Diana Ross classic, and the excitement in the crowd was incredible. They open with an older favourite ‘Stay In’ to which the crowd surge forward jumping frantically to the jangly guitars. The crowd surfing from fans begins immediately and the stage, which only just comes up to your knees and has no separation from the crowd is immediately used as the perfect launch step to crowd surf. A mosh pit forms, not that Jaws produce the kind of music you would imagine you could mosh to, and in the intimacy of the venue easily incorporates half the crowd. With a low density of crowd, the pit resulted in more falling over. The crowd created a force in one direction, however you can see that the desire of this crowd to have the best time is there.
There is no doubt this is one of the best crowds I’ve been in but perhaps it is disappointing that Jaws don’t respond to this sheer energy
Their sound has developed since I last saw them and the different melodies are easier to pick apart and have more clarity, the use of loop pedals creates a fuller sound for the band too. Jaws briefly talk to the crowd, satisfying Geordie patriotism by mentioning a memorable performance last time they were in Newcastle and then devoting a song to those in Paris after the tragic Paris attacks. They move straight into ‘BreeZe’ where the crowd enthusiastically sing the repetitive chorus with no need to be prompted by the band.
The lively crowd’s energy continued with one crowd surfer hitting the lights due to the venues low ceilings and briefly creating semi-darkness. Nervous bouncers look on as crowd surfers legs wave dangerously close to lead vocalist, Connor Schofield’s, head. The security have to really work during this gig. One of the security ends up standing in the crowd by the stage, stopping one fan from singing next to Schofield, after the fan had two successful attempts though it received no reaction from the band. Shout out to the fan wearing the blue Jaws t-shirt and cap, who seemed to have taken on the job of readjusting the amp at the front of the stage which moved when the crowd was pushed towards the stage and the security guard who stood by the speakers which looked like they were going to topple over.
The band played two new songs which remain in the style of Jaws, but have a darker tone and slightly heavier guitar. These are laced in with older and newer favourites, including ‘Toucan Surf’ and ‘Be Slowly’ which the crowd sings along to. There is no doubt this is one of the best crowds I’ve been in but perhaps it is disappointing that Jaws don’t respond to this sheer energy: they don’t mention the never ending crowd surfing, or ask us to sing along and, in their occasional interactions with the crowd, they seem rehearsed and a lack personal connection.
Jaws briefly talk to the crowd, satisfying Geordie patriotism by mentioning a memorable performance last time they were in Newcastle and then devoting a song to those in Paris after the tragic Paris attacks
Rather than do the pretence of going off stage only to come back on for on encore they remain on stage for their last two songs. As well as ‘Surround You’ they do an extended version of ‘Gold’ which creeps into a rock style in the elongated instrumental. This is the highlight of their performance. If you go to a Jaws gig in Newcastle there is no doubt you will have an amazing time, and with a growing and committed fan following in addition to hopefully some performances at festivals this summer perhaps this is the last time you’d be lucky enough to see Jaws in such an intimate venue.