Having taken last year’s SummerTyne Americana Festival by storm, Jess and the Bandits make a welcome return to the Sage Gateshead.

Last month the band released a deluxe edition of their debut album, Here We Go Again, giving their existing fans a little something extra, whilst at the same time introducing their music to a wider audience. The band’s latest release bridges the gap as they continue to work on their sophomore album.

Opening the show tonight are the British country duo, Luke and Mel, who receive a great reception from the Geordie crowd. The pair each armed with their trusty acoustic guitars perform tracks like “Somethin’ About A Woman,” which won a British Country Music Award as well as giving the audience a taste of “Save It” from their forthcoming album, which features some beautiful vocal harmonies.

Luke and Mel’s new single, “Bad Habit,” reached No. 4 on the iTunes country chart and the band will return to the Sage Gateshead later in the year as part of the SummerTyne Festival.

There seems to be a real groundswell in country music in the UK right now, and one of the artists at the forefront is Jess and the Bandits. The anglo-American outfit fronted by lead vocalist, Jessica Clemmons, have been out in Nashville working on their second album, although there is no room for any new tracks in the band’s set tonight.

Their set centers around their debut album with the likes of new single “Kiss You Now”, “My Name Is Trouble,” and “We Are Tonight.”

They also play several covers including a beautiful duet with keyboard player Steven Reid Williams on Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance,” which features on the album. Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Sneaking Up On You,” stands out due to the great pedal steel solo from Matt Park, as does their rendition of Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not To Come.” Jess and the Bandits get the audience moving throughout the show.

On stage, Clemmons looks happy to be back at The Sage, and her happiness is infectious. Just like the moral of the song, “Nitty Gritty,” Jess and the Bandits have brought together people from all walks of life. Clemmons notices a group of children perched at the edge of the balcony who are singing their hearts out; they know every word to every song, and she is quite taken back by them.

However, it is the band’s first single, “You Can’t Stop Me,” which stands out in the set highlighting Clemmons phenomenal vocal range. They slow down proceedings with “What If,” which is one of the more personal songs which Clemmons’ has written, and it sounds incredible in the acoustically brilliant Sage Gateshead.

The band pays homage to the late Terry Wogan, who had them as guests on his radio show with a stunning version of Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Linesman,” which they had originally recorded for his show.

Jess and The Bandits close their set with “Wanted Man” leaving the stage to rapturous applause, but they aren’t done yet. Their encore brings the night to an end with the sultry, “Single Tonight.”

As the band prepares to record their second album, we look forward to more of what’s to come from these rising stars of the UK country scene.

Jess and the Bandits
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Jessica Clemmons
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Luke and Mel
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About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in north-east England. He has been shooting concerts for several years now, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK & Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. Adam considers himself fortunate enough to have shot at some of the most prestigious venues and music festivals around the UK, such as The O2 in London, the Glastonbury Festival, as well as the likes of Madison Square Garden in New York City. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print in Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. Adam is passionate about music and photography, which shows in his work. His taste in music is eclectic and appreciates a diverse selection of genres, from Miles Davis to Metallica, and everything in between. He also has a strong interest in new music, and is on the look out for the next big thing.