- 18 Jan 21
Vernon Jane are a live phenomenon of extraordinary energy and power, as well as superb musicianship. On the night, they featured the fabulous five: singer and guitarist Emily Jane (lead vocals and guitar); Cathal McKenna (bass); Niamh Casey (drums); Sean Cunningham (sax); and Joe Curtis (guitar). Following lauded headline gigs and festival appearances, the jazz-punk band have built up a reputation for their raucous live shows.
The concept album, which is divided into four distinct sections (Cleanse, Sink, Drown and Float), explores themes of intimacy, vulnerability, aggression and shame – and was recorded across a whirlwind three-day session in Dublin's Camden Recording Studios, featuring a nine-piece band.
We had a sense of what to expect from the band's 30-minute set at the Button Factory, Dublin. Then again, Vernon Jane are a band gifted with the ability to smash expectations (and eardrums). It turned out to be a riotous show indeed...
With their trademark combination of psychedelic rock and jazz, the band's sound is perfect for a virtual lockdown gig that aims to shake the cobwebs – and January blues – from the viewer's psyche.
Launching with the explosive '333' - taken from The Ritual Of Love Making - the camera follows lead vocalist Emily Jane as she skulks around the room, owning every inch of the space. Channelling her gaze directly into the camera, she gives the impression that the audience watching all managed to nab the exclusive front row space at the gig of the season.
"Break my legs/ tie me to the bed/ I wanna feel something at all," the frontwoman sings, before an eruption of noise fills the venue.
Vernon Jane's style of experimental genre-bending is enthralling when performed live, with the outfit's searingly raw lyricism front and centre. Emily Jane is at her powerful best on the night, thoroughly expanding her vocal range and changing the tempo of the tracks at will, to keep the viewer hooked.
The effect of the saxophone trilling alongside electric guitar riffs and a heavy drum beat ensures that Vernon Jane stand out from the crowd. There are musical surprise aplenty, but the whole thing works perfectly in the moment.
The brooding 'Last Good Fuck' captures Emily Jane's anger brilliantly.
"I would take it back if I could/ Wasted my last good fuck on you."
The high energy set continues with 'Over', exploring the frustration of failing to get closure following the end of a relationship.
Emily Jane's confident stage presence makes her a real force to be reckoned with, especially on this track. Unleashing her voice superbly to reinforce her lyrical point, she brings the chaotic post-break-up battles within her mind to glorious, taut life.
'Otherside' significantly slows the pace of the set, but it's a welcome contrast: when there is only a guitar strumming in the background you can hear what a great vocalist Emily Jane is.
"You are the love of my life...can't you see I'm terrified?"
Picking up speed once more, guitar riffs take the listener by surprise as 'Otherside' makes way for the band's 2018 track 'Fragile'.
Concluding their performance with the relentless 'Weapon Between Her Legs', the band come together for a rousing finish to a thrilling live gig.
Whether it's Emily Jane solo or the full nine-piece group, Vernon Jane bring a fearsome angst and ferocity to the table. Underestimate them at your peril.
Revisit the stunning Vernon Jane gig from the Button Factory below:
Catch New Valley Wolves tonight at the Button Factory on the Hot Press YouTube channel from 8pm.
The full line-up and schedule for the remaining online performance series is as follows:
January 18: New Valley Wolves
January 25: Thumper
February 1: New Secret Weapon
This project has been part-funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, the Gaeltacht, Sport and Media from the Live Performance Support Scheme.