Chris Jagger Band
Friday 10th June 2022
Esher Theatre, Esher
Musician, singer, songwriter, actor, producer, journalist, designer and farmer Chris Jagger is back out on the road promoting his latest studio album ‘Mixing up the Medicine’ and autobiography ‘Talking to Myself’. Chris is, of course, the younger brother of a certain Mick Jagger, front man with a rather popular beat combo! Chris has travelled a long and varied road throughout his career, starting out as a stage actor in the late 60s before moving on to making his own music in the 70s. Along the way he has dabbled in theatre, cinema, clothes design, decoration, and journalism, having written for The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Mail on Sunday, The Independent on Sunday, and Rolling Stone magazine. Chris’s first solo album ‘You Know the Name But Not the Face’ was released in 1973 with a second ‘The Adventures of Valentine Vox the Ventriloquist’ appearing in 1974. An eclectic mix of Blues, Country and Folk Rock, not a million miles away from what the Stones were doing. Unfortunately, these albums didn’t quite set the music world alight and as a result Chris went on to focus his attentions on other things including acting, appearing in several films such as ‘Lucifer Rising’ (1972), ‘The Stud’ (1978), ‘Home Before Midnight’ (1979), ‘The Bitch’ (1979), ‘Lifeforce’ (1985), ‘Attraction’ (2000) and ‘I Got the Blues in Austin’ which he also co-produced (Jagger Peyton Films, 2009).
In the 1980s, he contributed songwriting on two of the Rolling Stones' albums ‘Dirty Work’ (1986) and ‘Steel Wheels’ (1989). After twenty years of not making his own music and with renewed enthusiasm and a strong desire to compose and create again, Chris’s third studio album ‘Atcha’ finally appeared in 1994! This time his musical style had changed to incorporate elements of Cajun, Zydeco, Folk, Country, Blues and Rock. A steady stream of quality album releases would appear in the ensuing years including 'From Lhasa to Lewisham' (1996), 'Channel Fever' (2001), 'Act of Faith' (2006), 'The Ridge' (2009), 'Concertina Jack' (2013), 'Chris Jagger's Acoustic Roots' (2014), 'All The Best' (2017) and 'Mixing up the Medicine' (2021).
The 2022 line-up of The Chris Jagger Band features Chris on vocals and guitar, the legendary Charlie Hart (Slim Chance) on piano/accordion/fiddle, Elliet Mackrell (Kangaroo Moon) on fiddle, Paul Atkinson on drums and Paul O'Reilly on bass. The band are currently on tour with a few select dates in the UK and Europe promoting Chris's new album, and tonight’s gig in the London suburban town of Esher, was presented by legendary Disc Jockey Kid Jensen, who is also one of the theatre’s patrons. The venue was apparently only opened in September 2021, a small intimate theatre quite well hidden down a side street behind the High Street. If you didn't know it was there you probably wouldn't find it! As one local recently commented, “I didn't know Esher had a theatre”. For this gig the theatre was probably only about half full and mainly consisted of Chris Jagger fans/friends and local music enthusiasts. Also present in the audience was original Kinks drummer Mick Avory and his wife.
The show got under way with the upbeat and lively 'Little Road Runner' from the 2013 album 'Concertina Jack'. A countrified acoustic Folk Rock styled song that enabled the band to lock in and find their groove. “Early one morning about the break of day, I packed my bags I was on my way, on the road I find a place to hide, my little roadrunner hitched a ride”. With the band suitably warmed up, Chris then commented that it was “rather hot in here tonight” and proceeded to remove his shirt to the delight of some ladies down the front! Next in line was the delightful 'Amazing What People Throw Away' from the 2006 album 'Act of Faith', a sensational song from one of Chris's best albums. (David Gilmour from Pink Floyd plays lead guitar on the original record). “They say experts can analyse the man, by searching through his garbage can, if he's a Rolling Stones or a Beatles fan, that’s the game. It's amazing what people throw away”. Chris's lyrics are always interestingly compelling and often amusingly witty!
On to the Blues Funk shuffle of 'Funky Man' from the 2001 album 'Channel Fever'. A mid-paced stomper, that enabled the band to let loose and establish a fluently flowing groove. “When you wake up in the morning, I will run you a bath, scrub your back, boil an egg timed to perfection, with tea and toast and marmalade”. An amusingly catchy little song. Time for a new one in the form of 'Anyone Seen My Heart?' from the latest album, 'Mixing up the Medicine'. Chris's brother Mick duets with him on the record, they also filmed a music video together to accompany the song. Unfortunately, Mick wasn't at this gig, probably still recovering from rocking Liverpool with the Stones earlier in the week! This song has an infectious Ska influenced beat and on the record horns dominate, but at this gig Charlie and Elliet get to cover the melodies and hooks with fiddle and accordion. Scintillating stuff! For some reason the drummer messed up the tempo half way through and for a few seconds it all seemed to fall apart, but like true professionals they kept going and soon recovered the beat and all was well again. Continuing with another new song from the 'Mixing up the Medicine' album we were treated to the Blues tinged 'Loves Around the Corner'. Another horn infused track on the record, but the live version had some tasty fiddle and piano accompaniment. “The cost of living is running high, the cost of dying going through the sky, the cats are waiting to be fed, I got to change the sheets upon my bed, loves around the corner”.
The time came to slow things down a bit with the acoustic 'Lazy Days' from the 1996 album 'From Lhasa to Lewisham'. A charming laid-back Country influenced song with some gorgeous fiddle playing from Elliet. The mellow mood continued with the breathtaking ballad 'Single Spark' from the 2009 album 'The Ridge'. One of Chris's finest songs from another of his best albums. “A single ray of light lead you on, a single ray of light make you strong, yes a single spark can light a fire, so be brave be true, a single ray of light from me to you”. Stunning performance from Chris and band.
With the slow songs out of the way, it was time to up the tempo and raise the energy levels with the Cajun inspired 'Allons Joujette' from the 1994 album 'Atcha'. Fiddles a plenty and much foot stomping occurred! Normally this track would have the crowd up dancing, but as it was an all seated theatre, free abandonment and self expression were restrained! Another irresistibly enjoyable acoustic guitar driven toe tapper, 'Green Thumb', also from the 1994 album 'Atcha', delighted with it's catchy sing-a-long chorus, “She got a green thumb, she got a green thumb, she can grow a seed with the power of the sun, she got a green thumb, she got a green thumb, red red roses open like a tongue”. Sticking with selections from the 1994 album 'Atcha', we were then treated to the fast Country stomp of 'Stand up for the Foot' with Charlie and Elliet trading some serious fiddle licks. Charlie swapped between fiddle, accordion and piano throughout the set, whilst Jagger kept the rhythm on acoustic guitar and vocals. (Mick Jagger provided guest vocals on the original recording). “Don't be reaching for a big ten incher, or be a member of mile high club, or go out looking for a pound of flesh, having you an ounce of love, Stand up for the foot, feeling the pinch, stand up for the foot, no don't you give an inch”. A rousingly exhilarating song that had everyone gyrating in their seat! With all the excitement, Chris managed to break a string on his acoustic guitar, so while this was being repaired, he read a few passages from his autobiography ‘Talking to Myself’. A fascinating insight into the life and times of Chris Jagger.
With the show back on track, it was time for some 'Channel Fever', the title track from the 2001 album. Another upbeat Country tinged track with some blazing accordion from Charlie. “Sap on my hand, has caked hard and dry, logs I have been hauling, stacked up real high, boss man has paid me, tired to my bones, gonna pick up my coat, and come right along, comin' on home”. Before the final furlong of the set, Kid Jensen made an appearance at the front of the stage to give a short speech about the theatre and his charity work, sadly Jensen is suffering Parkinson's disease and it is clear that the symptoms are affecting his movement and speech.
It was then time for the final portion of the set with the high energy funky Blues of 'On the Road' from the 2006 album 'Act of Faith'. Another excellent song from Chris and definitely in my top five tracks of his. “Before we had crack, there was Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady behind the wheel, Joblin, speed and smoking weed, and hustling for their next meal. They headed west to New Orleans, Denver and ol' Frisco, and after drinking wine skooby ooby, they took off to Mexico. They were on the road, where they were heading nobody knows”. Superb performance from the band and Chris at his very best. Staying with the 2006 album 'Act of Faith' came the fantabulous 'Got Me Where You Want Me'. A vibrantly up-tempo song with an infectious melody and seductive groove. Some nifty accordion playing from the inimitable Charlie Hart added to the overall enjoyment. (British Soul/Blues singer Sam Brown duets with Chris on the original recording). “Got me where you want me, and it sure feels good, with a smile like that, you could be in Hollywood, gonna take you dancing, lets do it in style, anyway you want it, I'll go the extra mile”. Keeping the energy levels raised the final song of the set was 'Blow the Zydeco' from the 1994 album 'Atcha'. A full on Cajun/Blues/Country hoedown that had everyone shakin', rattlin' and rollin'!
Steven C. Gilbert.