The regenerated renegade could have been mistaken for the headliner, as the former Palma Violets frontman brought swagger, spice and all things nice.
The night after Halloween is always a muted one. It’s cold and wet, and the streets are deserted; albeit for the Ocean stragglers, who paint a haphazard brushstroke against the canvas of The Corellas’ queue, yet I feel it’s more so myself muddying the picture with an imperfection tonight.
Confession: The Corellas were, admittedly, on the outer reaches of my awareness. Scratch that, I’d never heard a single song of theirs until tonight. Imagine attaining a sold-out gig status, only to be confronted by the fact it was sold out not by true fans. An act of treason. A non-believer.
I am not here for the main act. The support is who I have my eye on.
Chilli Jesson is no newcomer to live performance; that joie de vivre for the sound of the stage is rooted in constant self-reinvention.
From the raucous ramblings of Palma Violets – growing up with that attuned arrogance, much like their sound, of howling guitar wails and thrashing kickdrum – to the credible follow up of Crewel Intentions, whose signature schtick was their misanthropic crooning, Jesson has never known another life beyond the crowd.
And it’s evident from the moment the house lights dim.
Stalking the stage with all the languidness of a cat, he feels no need to introduce himself to the crowd. It’s that instinctual declaration that we know what we’ve come to see, and the band will deliver – a binary self-assurance that these next thirty minutes is a no-nonsense spectacle of born-again pop.
For an artist who sells his own hot sauce, ‘Carolina Reaper’ is as on the nose as you’d expect. It’s punchy, guttural with its plosive chorus that’s as syncopated to the electro-funk as much as he is. Jesson haughtily pinballs himself around the stage with a new-found sense of desperation, employing a performance piece to each track, and it’s a glorious juxtapose to the steady foundation of his bandmates.
Their attire of tailored suits, argyle sweaters, and dagger tooth collars possesses an irony on the song ‘Gucci Want The Suit Back’, in which the mocking repetition of the central hook is as playful as it is snide.
Although at points grating (an intentional sentiment), ‘Icarus’ is a similarly scathing outburst; an emotionally weighted narrative, you get the sense that Jesson is willing to fly too close to the sun to break boundaries. He’s self-aware, unashamedly honest in this manifesto of grunge and spiky intuition, he certainly wasn’t the only one stomping his feet.
Chilli Jesson’s latest single ‘Icarus’ is available to stream on all streaming sites.
(Image credit: Talia Robinson)
From where I’ve nestled myself to the side of the room, shouldered with couples content to keep their pints this evening, the waves of bobbing heads and raised arms becomes more unhinged and rockier during their set – and Chilli Jesson is sailing his way through with an earnest intensity. This is a performer who knows exactly how to command a stage.
“Thanks to Corella” He drawls, the composure of his indie darling persona in full force. “It’s been a f**king great tour – who’s booking tomorrow off, then?”
He’d burgeoned himself on tour with Fontaines D.C earlier this year (who themselves were supporting the acclaimed Arctic Monkeys during their stint in the US), filling in for Conor Deegan on the bass.
Now winding down his tour with The Corellas in Rescue Rooms, it’s a venue that is more so a tribute for him tonight; with its sweat-slickened walls bordering on the intimacy of the bingo game happening in the next room, it harks back to his humble beginnings as a younger – but just as ever vibrant – musician.
This third project is under his own name, supported by Luciano Cusack on bass, Rupert Greaves on guitar, and Jamie Howard on drums. The set may have been short in length, yet it was wide in style.
There’s a visceral thrill to be gleaned from seeing Jesson invest his thrashes with such theatricality; a howling earnestness during ‘White Room’ is an effervescent melodrama in itself. An almost psychedelic piece, the sporadic brusque harmonies do anything but hamper the nostalgic tint of a band and audience blending into one ethereal feeling.
‘St. Vitamin’ squirms under its seamless fluidity between distorted guitar lines and monotoned grit of the chorus. High-hats and kick-drum in full force, this reincarnation of Jesson is hauntingly hypnotic, and the taste of this new musical direction is tantalizing.
Let’s hope we’re not being too spoiled, there’s only so many flavours on the Chilli Jesson palette and I really don’t want them to stay on the appetizer menu.
If you can’t wait that long till he (hopefully!) returns for a headline tour of his own, you can keep up to date with Jesson via his website.