Less Than Jake, London Astoria

Whilst it isn’t unknown for any number of the multitude of downtrodden holes that host live music around the country to resemble a sauna, one might expect that a venue as large and as popular as the Astoria might have considered investing in some decent ventilation. Wrong. It’s a sweltering day, and as Less Than Jake bound onstage to their own twisted version of the Star Wars theme, there’s only one thing for frontman Chris DeMakes to say; "it’s fucking hot in here". Fortunately, there’s no sign of Nelly anywhere.

DeMakes’ charges used to be a unique entity in the music scene; a band whose live act anyone could see, hate every song, and yet still come away having loved every minute of the show. Sadly – perhaps as it’s the last date of a gruelling tour – Less Than Jake have reined in their onstage excesses; gone are the fire-eaters, giant pez candy, and until-now omnipresent mad roadie Shaun.

Fortunately, this puts added onus on the music, and the band do not disappoint. Cuts from latest album "Anthem" take centre-stage; single "She’s Gonna Break Soon" sounds much meatier live, the bands’ less ska-heavy new direction comes to the fore on album opener “Welcome To The New South”, whilst the slow, cool reggae vibe of "Science of Selling Yourself Short" provides a welcome relief to the flailing, sweaty masses in the pit. Whilst this new material is on a par with any of their previous work, the crowd’s reaction peaks for the older songs, in particular "History Of A Boring Town", "Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sell-Outs" and a thunderous version of "Al’s War". 2000 release Borders & Boundaries, however, is criminally ignored almost completely, with only "Gainesville Rock City" and the recently re-recorded "Look What Happened" deemed worthy of stage time. That said, this allows a fair airing for their older material, something many bands sadly neglect as they move onwards and upwards.

In the end, whilst the showmanship might have diminished, Less Than Jake sound as tight live as they ever have done, their unique energy is certainly still there, and as the band encore with "All My Best Friends Are Metalheads" there’s no-one in the Astoria complaining.

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