Featuring John Paul Jones
Supersilent - Live At RNCM, Manchester

Against a pure trumpet and organ, Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones thumbs his instrument with a nervousness, a caution that would suggest he's joining the band tonight (which he is). It's intuitive and clever, indicative of a musician happy to deliver a knowingness. 

The theatre of a trumpet facing downwards stage left lightly structured the stage. The organ effervescent throughout - simmers and shakes, creating a deep, engaging sound. The bassist shuffling about, fidgeting with equilisation. Here is an exercise in control and crescendo. A dance that manoeuvres with great caution. For the opening section the parts - Arve Henriksen trumpet and drums, Ståle Storløkken keys synths electronics, and John Paul Jones bass - manoevre around the other. The opening is a moment if intense participation. The bass, here is an ugly, crude instrument, one that JPJ plays in an awkward counter point to the hyper fluidity of the band. 

The Led Zep. bassist looked like a Dawson's pestering anorak, fumbling about with a MacBook, iPad, pedals and twelve-string bass. With his contributions unable to do subtlety. For the most part it was like watching a child thumb through the tab sheet. Tonight he perfumes a dangerous role, one that sees him pushing the instrument to the edge of acceptability. Agressively fashioning himself in extreme avant-garde territories.

If anything the opening section is dry, that is until Henriksen enters a trumpet solo divided between muted horn and a vocal imitation of the instrument. The vocal version strays into kazoo territory. It's a humourous incarnation of the sound. And a sublime addition to the building momentum, to peak in a moment of absurdity.

In quieter moments JPJ finds himself leaking static over an otherwise controlled sound from the other two musicians. It's not that the man adds a new dynamic to a group that through meticulous endeavour are worried their format may become stale, more they have allowed a devil into their home.To be kind, Jones portrays a constant threat in the group. Capturing the idea that the sound could descend into a chaos at any point. That he adds a sense of anarchy to the group, that he is playing in character rather than enacting he role of a musician.

"I was not born when John Paul Jones was playing music… Woah!" is shouted sarcastically from Arve Henriksen who is mid trance, leaping about behind the drum kit. This is his show. He is the star. He is the one able to straddle musical styles and produce outrageous results. The man is a prodigious talent, a wild, conquering mind. 


Words by Samuel Breen


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