Jack Penate

★★★★☆

Venue: The Cockpit, Leeds
Date: 14/06/07

First there was Jamie, then Dizzee and now the sundry churn of London’s music scene offers up its latest progeny in the form of the relentlessly frenetic Jack Penate. Describing his music as “souly, poppy, rocky” and citing everything from Funkadelic and Bessie Smith to the solemnities of Jeff Buckley as influences, Jacky certainly possesses the same wacky, but still gelling, eclecticism that renders T and Rascal’s music constantly refreshing.

But unlike his “bit-cool” counterparts, Penate is an unashamedly giddy imp of a thing – unfailingly jovial despite the criticism of his “public-school rock ‘n roll” he rejoinders with just the right amount of smug assurance: “If you want to have a go at me for being from London, then go ahead. Better out than in, give me your worst”. This kind of ante-rebellious, “damn right, I’m a shiny, happy person” attitude fuels his music with an infectious vivacity, so despite the preponderance toward cynicism, you just can’t help bopping along.

But the gleeful songster also has his sombre moments. ‘My Yvonne,’ with its poignantly soft, verging on acoustic, spare guitar, provides a welcome contrast to the feverish singles ‘Spit at the Stars’ and ‘Second Minute or Hour’. ‘Torn on the Platform’ has just the right amount of wistful falsetto mixed with jaunty rhythmics to maintain the merriment without being nauseatingly jangly.

For an artist whose been trawling the gig-haunts on his lonesome for the past year, Penate’s garnered quite the musical range. Word on the NME grapevine is that, performance-wise, he’s quite the force to be reckoned with – renowned for careering around the stage like a jiving grasshopper on crack, your eyes will feast even if your ears occasionally wince. To the most apathetic, apparently Jack also offers Love Heart sweets. So, if global warming decides to dawn on England and allow us a little sunshine, head to the Cockpit, shake off the SAD and revel in what will probably be the cheeriest little shindig to kick off the summer.

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