Page One: Jack Cookson Page Two: The Cut Ups Page Three: Franz Nicolay
I first saw Franz Nicolay almost a year ago in a Plymouth bar named Jack Chams (Now known as Chams) but back then he was supported by an Exeter based punk artist by the name of Rory Matthews, who plays under the moniker Some Sort of Threat. That night was focused around acoustic music and folk-punk, a healthy combination of guitars and banjos accompanied with Vaudeville mentality and angst. A fine night out if ever I heard one.
This time around, Franz played with a full backing band courtesy of another Exeter based band called The Cut Ups as well as playing their own set. The Bearing Torches Tour which is still making its way through England featured Plymouth/Bristol based artist Jack Cookson joining the tour for one night in Plymouth’s Tiki Bar.
Downstairs in the converted Tiki Bar basement, Jack Cookson was the first to take the floor, charged with the task of warming the crowd up. Now, I’ve written about Jack several times before, including reviews of his EP’s Two Rooms and Five Times but I had heard that he’s been working on a host of new songs, so I was eager to hear what kind of set he would produce.
Photograph: Josie-Leigh Webb
He started his set with one of his older songs The Head, The Heart & The Flesh from his Five Times EP. Unfortunately, Jack had to play this song without the support of a full-band, however, this took nothing away from the performance. In the time Jack has been working the circuit, he’s established a name for performing folk-punk, or in the words of Frank Turner; “Anglicana”, fusing folk-chord progressions, delicate finger picking melodies and lyrics fueled with the angst of Chris Farren and the real-life blues of Dave Hause. Every time I’ve seen Jack play, he’s delivered the same satisfying results; real blue-collar folk-punk songs whether there’s a band behind him or not.
Next up on the set was a new song, the moment that Jack’s fans had been waiting for. Everyone present who had heard of Cookson before slowly but surely made their way closer and closer across the floor to see what he had to offer with crystal clarity.
Following up from one new song, Cookson revealed another song from his notepad, still hot off the press. He announced that the song was called Nebraska and hinted at influence from Bruce Springsteen’s 1985 album of the same name, although bears no significant likeness in sound.
If you’ve heard Jack’s Five Times EP in the past, then you’ll be familiar with his developing sound. Simply put, Nebraska is very much a song from ‘Jack Cookson’ but sounds far more mature, and developed showing improved song-writing and delivery.
Photography: Josie-Leigh Webb
The same, however, cannot be said for the following song Demons. This song is one in a completely new vein. The best and only way I can think to describe this song is a cross between Bob Dylan’s self-titled 1962 album, and Bruce Springsteen’s State Trooper, also from Nebraska, an evidently resounding influence.
The song was very rock orientated, a first for the folk-punk artist, producing riffs that you could expect to hear on an electric guitar or from a Kerrang artist. The song’s crescendo was tangible, and nodding your head was a must. It’s always been my complaint with Jack’s music that I often feel as though he never really let go, and never embraced the music. For an artist that put so much passion into the writing, I always felt his performances were very controlled. Demons was definitely the song that broke the mould, and he succeeded in stunning the entire first row all the way back to the merchandise tables.
Jack closed the show with Ocean Song, and What You Sow You Reap and finally a revamped version of Old Chapels O’ Stone featured on his latest release, Weighing Anchor EP. If anything can be said about the young performers’ gigs it’s that his skill and stage presence grows with every performance and he’s never been better. If you get the chance to see Jack near you, make sure you don’t miss out.
You can read more about Jack Cookson on his official Facebook page, or take a listen to his music on Bandcamp.
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