GIG REVIEW: Jess & The Bandits – Live At The Borderline, London

Well, I went to Texas last Friday night, with the brassy, ever so sassy Jessica Clemmons and her loyal tribe of bandits. Well, more like Jess turned intimate London venue, The Borderline, into Texas. Jess was a vision in red which complimented the warm response she had towards her audience as she took to the stage like she owned it. Kicking off the night with her first ever single ‘My Name is Trouble’, smiles were on faces and head bopping was in full swing. It was destined to be an awesome gig already.

Before Jess and The Bandits took to the stage we had the absolute joy of listening to Scottish native Kevin McGuire. McGuire is really taking huge steps in his career lately, by being very active on social media; he constantly keeps us up to date with his busy schedule and is really gaining quite a following. Along with his more well know tunes such as ‘Alright, Tonight!’ and his latest release ‘Late’, McGuire surprised us with a fun, folky version of American starlet Maren Morris’ hit, ’80’s Mercedes’. Just like that, the crowd were ready to rock n country roll! (FYI, country roll is the process of rolling home after drinking too much, I don’t know about you, but my friends and I are pros.)

Easing into her set with class, Jess involved her fans incessantly, handing out duties to the loyal fans on the front row. One of which she explained was ‘fan duty’, which involved bringing out Jess’ ‘Beyoncé’ side, making use of the air fan on the stage, and she SO did. I completely loved Clemmons’ personality on stage, her bubbly persona completely drew me in. Looking around, you could see I wasn’t the only one. A girl after my own heart, as she jokingly took a glass of wine from a dancing woman up front.

Personally one of my highlights of the evening was when Jess belted out ever so passionately ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. Slotted in the middle of a song studded set including ‘Nitty Gritty’, ‘I’m Not Going Home’ and her stunning new single ‘White Lies’, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ stood out for me personally. As a young woman, this song is incredibly inspiring. Jess sang the wonderfully traditional melody with such female empowerment, it brought a tear to my eye. This wasn’t the only time throughout the night Clemmons embraced her womanhood; she owned it the entire time she was on stage, such a graceful, passionate and inspiring performer. A perfect role model to young women, I would have loved to see more young girls there. Maybe as country music expands in the UK, Jess will be one of those performers that young girls look up to.

We must not overlook the phenomenal Bandits. Jess and The Bandits may be fronted by Jess, but The Bandits are definitely not just a backing band, they are very much part of the show. It would be like tea without toast if we didn’t have Luke, Chris, Calum and Jake, the cheeky chappies, keeping the music tight and keeping us, the audience in the know of when to dance, jump and prance. In all seriousness, Jess and the Bandits are one of the best live bands on the circuit right now, and it’s all down to these boys and Jess herself putting in the constant hard work.

As the set came to an end, the mumbling, joy and laughter echoed around The Borderline, as people made their way over to the DIY photo booth, and created another special little memory of their Jess and the Bandits gig experience. I’m sure many in attendance at the gig Friday night woke up on Saturday morning telling some white lies and consuming lots of black coffee… (see what I did there?! ;p, if ya don’t, listen to the fab new single). After all, their Friday night kicked off just so freaking awesome, you can’t help but ‘country roll’ home.

Shannon Hynes