The Jayhawks, The Barbican, London 

3.00

 

The Jayhawks are one the great unsung American bands of the 20 century. Gary Louris and Mark Olson, the chief songwriters and mainstays of this sensational country-rock act, are comparable to Squeeze luminaries Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, only without the hits and acclaim.

Their most successful single, “Waiting for the Sun”, only charted at No 20 in the US in 1992, which is galling given that they’ve created immaculate three-minute pop gems such as “Blue”, “Two Hearts” and “I’d Run Away”, all from 1995’s brilliant “failure” Tomorrow the Green Grass . The three tracks are highlights tonight, but you can’t escape the feeling that The Jayhawks are not entirely comfortable here; there’s minimal audience engagement and they seem to finish dramatically early, even though they’ve delivered a generous 21-song set. They feel like a finer proposition on record than in the flesh, but, still, what an exquisite sound, a heady blend of optimism and melancholy, and very redolent of The Byrds. 

Louris, in his louche black suit jacket, resembles Jonathan Franzen, while the more gregarious Olson, in his check-shirt and jeans, is more like Dennis Hopper. Together, the five-piece look like fearsome academics from Yale, rocking out. Formed in 1985, the Minnesota outfit have reunited their strongest line-up from the mid-1990s, with Marc Perlman on bass, Karen Grotberg on keyboards and Tim O’Reagan on drums. And the fiftysomethings wig out impressively on new track “Cinnamon Love”, from 2011’s pleasing comeback album Mockingbird Time , and with their support act Chuck Prophet on the gospel-infused “Up Above My Head”. But it’s Louris and Olson’s harmonies that still delight, especially Olson’s cracked vocals on their best new track, the lament “Tiny Arrows”. The Jayhawks have always been compelling on the passing of time and fractured relationships, “I’d Run Away” being the finest example: “So we had a little baby boy/ But we knew it wouldn’t last too long/ Kind of what I had in mind/ But what I had in mind was strong.” 

Other highlights include Olson’s “Miss Williams’ Guitar”, on which he sings about his former wife with gusto, the rootsy “Tampa to Tulsa” and their “big” hit “Waiting for the Sun”, from 1992’s Hollywood Town Hall .

Parts of this experience felt a tad underwhelming, but then this is an awkward band with a thorny history – lots of upheaval, band changes – and an act that never seems to belong in any one moment of time. However, their gorgeous pop songs will endure and the world is a better place with The Jayhawks in it.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn