Music Features

Jay Reatard: Live at the Faversham, Leeds

Jay Reatard approaches his live performances with the same enthusiasm that he takes into the recording studio, energetically ripping through his songs at a thunderous volume. There are no pauses between songs; with the feedback still ringing out, Reatard screams the title of the next offering before diving into it with the support of his charismatic band mates, a clean-cut drummer and a slightly unhinged look-alike bassist. It's a great spectacle, and when you factor in the number of great records in his catalogue, it's hard to understand why more people haven't acquainted themselves with Jay Reatard yet.

Tonight at the Faversham the stand outs are coming thick and fast, from all angles. Screaming Hand from this year's Matador Singles ‘08 is truly electric, while My Shadow and Not a Substitute from 2006's Blood Visions are already sounding like genre classics. But it’s not just an exercise in three-chord punk-pop. Reatard manages to channel a surprising amount of diversity into this short thirty minute set, even finding the time to pick up an acoustic, albeit it one plugged into a fuzzy distortion pedal, for a few songs towards the end. It doesn’t sound out of place at all.

As the exhausted trio leave the stage in a blur, dripping with sweat, I find myself standing in awe. Not for too long, I have a train to catch, but long enough to appreciate incendiary performance I have just witnessed. In an increasingly retrospective genre that is frequently blighted by mediocrity, Jay Reatard is a true visionary. If anyone can squeeze further relevance out of garage/punk-pop it is surely this shaggy-haired songwriter from Memphis.