If you drink enough Jack Daniel’s you’ll enjoy any band you see afterwards. However, although the drinks giant has laid on this evening’s entertainment at a beautiful, picturesque venue close to their distillery near Nashville, the bands provide enough memorable moments to ensure that tonight’s audience will look back on the night wistfully, no matter how much of the hard stuff they had consumed.
Of course, Hard-Fi and Carbon/Silicon have some history. The latter’s Mick Jones produced demos by Hard-Fi frontman Richard Archer’s former band Contempo back in the ’90s, and the west Londoners have remained friends ever since. The kindred spirits teamed up to wild acclaim earlier this year, when Jones joined Hard-Fi onstage at their Shockwaves NME Awards show, running through a version of Jones’ old band The Clash’s chart-topper ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’. Tonight, after crowd-pleasing sets from both bands, they all team up for the encore, despite the lack of room in front of the beer barrels dominating the tiny stage. They close the set with ‘Should I Stay…’, provoking scenes of bedlam in the USA’s ordinarily laid back, conservative country heartland. They also have a stab at Carbon/Silicon’s heartfelt plea for unity, ‘Why Do Men Fight?’, and then trundle through Hard-Fi’s ‘Stars Of CCTV’, the socially aware title track of their ’05 debut album.
But the real surprise (let’s face it, it would be more shocking if they didn’t do a Clash song) is their version of ‘E=MC2’, an ’86 hit for Jones’ post-Clash band Big Audio Dynamite. With its roots in rock and early hip-hop announcing its presence on white culture (much like The Clash’s ‘The Magnificent Seven’), the song is a clear influence on Hard-Fi’s overall sound – they even used to cover it regularly. While Archer teases out the central riff on his melodica, Jones rushes through the proto-rap lyrics with obvious relish. Jones’ partnership with old punk pal Tony James (celebrating his 50th birthday today) has clearly allowed him to revel in his past, while his patronage of Archer and Hard-Fi has enabled him to keep an eye on what’s happening in the present. And the future is wide open for them all. But maybe that’s just the whiskey talking…