Jimmy Regal and The Royals
Friday 29th July 2023
The Temple of Art and Music, London
The Temple of Art and Music has grown a strong reputation as a melting pot for the different genres both sonically and visually, so there was no better place for Jimmy Regal and The Royals to celebrate the launch of their third studio album ‘First and Last Stop’. The album continues with the band’s signature New Orleans and Mississippi sound, but with a healthy blend of Senegalese rhythm and South London humour added.
After a fantastic opening set from The Jujubes, the band immediately took to the stage. Joff Watkins stood front and centre with his harmonica in hand. CJ Williams stood to his right, guitar in hand, and Sammi Samuels sat behind his drums ready to unleash hell. The band started with ‘Burn it Down’ from their 2017 self-titled first release, then went into ‘Well Boss’ - both tracks featuring Joff’s vocals and harmonica.
The band is typically structured as a three-piece, but tonight was full of surprises. ‘Empty Streets’ started with Jon H on stage playing bass. This slide guitar centred track from the new album was fast to get the crowd moving to the rhythm. With softened vocals, the band then went into ‘Can’t Keep From Losing You’ with Alan Hughes on percussion and the fantastic Tricia Davies Nearn on backing vocals. Alan then switched to his djembe to add additional beats to title track ‘First and Last Stop’.
Next up was ‘Show Time’, with Alan, Jon and Tricia leaving the stage and master of keys Toby Kinder joining the boys. He stayed on for ‘Mickey Two Suits’, stepping up to LP status after being the standout track from their 2022 EP ‘Ain’t Done Yet’. Without vocals, the song is a harmonica lead tour-de-force, with Joff showing why he really is one of the best players in London at present.
The show went from strength to strength with tracks ‘Do Whatever You Can’ and the exciting ‘Bones to Dust’ featuring Jon O’Neal on saxophone. The venue filled more as the evening progressed as passers-by from the food and drink filled Mercato Metropolitano paid to hear the sensational music spilling over into the food hall.
Whether seated or standing, nobody could stay still with CJ and Sammi’s intricate rhythm section. It is this guitar and drum-based combination of sounds intertwining that allows Jimmy Regal and The Royals to take such a unique approach to their songwriting. A band with only three instruments filling the sonic space around them, like a larger band in place. This leads to a presence that fills a room of any size, still oozing of charisma.
While there wasn’t any sign of any inflatable chickens, the local humour is still embedded in the new album. ‘Fat Man’s Chicken’ included Titch Walker on trumpet, and a good dose of audience participation. Telling the story of a no-gooder trying to take food from a hungry friend, the chorus echoes loudly; “Never put your hands on a fat man’s chicken!”. Long may these fried chicken-based musings continue.
As the band line up continued to rotate through the rest of the evening, the band played through the remaining tracks of the new album with the final one being the first single ‘Got To Make A New Flame’ (again featuring most of the evening’s line up, and some audience participation with the chorus). The party atmosphere never dulled, and a happy venue is a great venue. All musicians then assembled for the final track of the evening, ‘Funk’, an all-out improvised jam showing the talent of all involved. The music faded but the crowd wanted more, so Joff, CJ and Sammi picked up their instruments for ‘Just Because’, an Elvis cover they used to practice together when the band first formed.
As the evening came to an end, the boys stood on stage to cheers of an evening well received. The new album is a huge success and both fans and passers-by alike had enjoyed the music (many taking home their own copy). The music the band are producing is true Blues, but with a unique flavour born of their own experiences and approach to the music. Their musical style remains faithful to the inspirations of the past but has expanded enough to be something of their own too. Long may they continue bringing this exciting and creative music to us.
Burn It Down
Can’t Keep from Losing You
First and Last Stop
Mickey Two Suits
Do Whatever You Can
Bones To Dust
Fat Man’s Chicken
You Can’t Run
Ain’t Done Yet
Got To Make A New Flame