brett anderson jd birthday Can You Gig It?: Jack Daniels Birthday Set @ Village Underground, London, 8.10.09

Jack Daniel, despite being dead, still gets to have a birthday. Or rather his “product”, Jack Daniel’s Tennesee Whiskey, does. That Jane Bradley went along to see Brett Anderson, Carl Barat and Jon McClure perform at a special bash t’other week, and this is what she thunkabourrit.

The Jack Daniel’s Birthday Set is an exclusive sort of affair. Tickets for it can’t be bought; it’s competitions winners and media only. There’s only capacity for four hundred in the Village Underground vaults, so you’d assume some elitism about the kind of riff-riff they let wangle their way in. Luckily for me, not so.

Every September, the folks at Jack Daniel’s organise shindigs like these to celebrate the birthday of the Tennessee whiskey wizard. The calibre of the “rock royalty” performing varies; previous celebrations have included Patti Smith, Juliette Lewis and Frank Black.

Apparently I was to be treated to an assortment of sterling musicians across a spectrum of genres, but as soon as I heard Carl Barât’s name being bandied about, I started to get suspicious…

The New Silver Cornet Band, from Nashville, have an impressive biography between them and provided the backing for the three headline acts. With a combined age of at least a few hundred, these granddaddies of rock have worked with Elvis, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. And to open the show Wayne Carson, who wrote the much-covered “Always On My Mind”, performed it live for the first time ever. The sentimental Pet Shop Boys fangirl in me was swooning all over the show.

It didn’t take long for me to develop a whopper of a crush on Rosie Vanier, the leading lady of Rosie and the Goldbug, who played keyboards. Her voice is gorgeous, and for one so small in stature she has huge stage presence. In her frilly frock, cinch belt and glitter make-up, Rosie had far more charisma than Jon ‘the Rev’ McClure, the first of the headliners onstage.

With his Gallagher swagger and loutish arrogance, Jon McClure comes across like a cocky thug spoiling for a fight outside a takeaway at 2am on a Friday night. As a mouthy Northerner who has happily indulged in the occasional bar-brawl myself, I can’t judge him too harshly for this. He probably thinks it’s part of his charm. But without the talent to back it up, his droning voice and Bez-from-Happy-Mondays-ish bumbling around the stage just grated on my nerves.

Thankfully it wasn’t too long before Brett Anderson time. Many of my schoolgirl fantasies featured Brett’s razorblade cheekbones and shapely derriere, so I was eager to appraise whether the ravages of time and illegal substances had dampened this effect. Joy of joys, he’s definitely still got it.

Belting out the hits and pouting and posing just like he did in Suede’s heyday, it was like the last fifteen years had never happened. Although his flouncing diva-fit when the sound quality wavered made me cringe, he soon swallowed his strop for a storming rendition of “Trash” that made me nostalgic for 90s Britpop and the days of smooching floppy-fringed indie boys at rubbish Belle & Sebastian-themed discos.

I couldn’t tell you about Carl Barât’s performance, because the sight of his face and the sound of his voice make me feel physically sick, so I scurried outside to vomit and stayed there until he was safely offstage.

But many happy returns to Mr. Daniel, and I’m sure my sudden illness was nothing to do with my imbibing copious quantities of his whiskey.

This abruptly vomit-streaked review was brought to you by the marv Jane Bradley. Thank you Jane. Now have a Tums.

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