Hey, Generation X'ers, we might need special glasses to read our bar receipts now, but we still know how to party. Maybe not as hard and as often, but we still got it. Go here for more Gen X bands at the Big Gig.
Like many a high schooler in the early ‘90s, I spent a lot of 1991 listening to Jesus Jones’ "Doubt." It took until Friday afternoon for me to finally see them live.
Thanks to a forward-looking approach to this one-off mini tour, Jesus Jones not only played Summerfest for the first time this year, they also marked their 30th anniversary with their first show in Milwaukee in 17 years. I don’t know where I was in 2002 when they apparently played here last – I knew, however, I wouldn’t miss this one. And the several hundred Gen Xers at Summerfest were right there with me.
After all, it’s a changing music landscape these days. When I asked keyboard player Iain Baker how different alternative rock is now versus when Jesus Jones found its main success – they opened for INXS at Wembley Stadium, after all – Baker pointed out that "Doubt" dropped right before grunge blew everything else out of the water.
And listening to Jesus Jones roll their hits (and lesser known stuff, too) on a surprisingly early 4 p.m. slot that actually started at 4:30, it felt nice to transport back to a time when alternative rock bands had a different sound to draw upon than the Seattle influence that become omnipresent on MTV. Jesus Jones had and still has a techno, hip-hop sound. I only wish they played a little later, because I would’ve liked to see more people here.
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To me, I always thought of EMF as Jesus Jones’ twin brother, but today I noticed similarities with other great Brit bands, like the Stone Roses and Ride. I can’t say I was incredibly familiar with everything off their seven studio albums, but I certainly recognized the older stuff, as well as the singles "Where Have All The Dreams Gone" and "Suck It Up" from their 2018 album, "Passages."
So, while Jesus Jones didn’t play my favorite of their songs, "Welcome Back Victoria," they certainly belted through the greatest hits, including "Real Real Real,' and "Right Here, Right Now." Even though the almost 30-year-old "Doubt" certainly feels dated when you listen to the record, Jesus Jones did a good job making these old songs sound fresh again. "International Bright Young Thing" was sped up and more raw than the version on the record. I liked it. Lead singer Mike Edwards said he detuned his guitar for "Right Here, Right Now," because he couldn’t hit the high notes anymore. And he was right; the change was noticable, but I’m not complaining.
Now that the band has its visas, Baker told me this won’t be Jesus Jones’ last visit to Milwaukee, and I hope he’s right. You could tell that the band wasn’t just cashing a paycheck today and going through the motions. It’s refreshing to see an original lineup, still making new music, and treating its fans with a rare appearance after so long.
Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 17 years to bring this band back to Summerfest.
International Bright Young Thing
Where Are All the Dreams?
Who? Where? Why?
All The Answers
Someone To Blame
Suck It Up
Bring It on Down
Two and Two
Real, Real, Real
Zeroes and Ones
Right Here, Right Now
What Would You Know?
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.