Live Powerpop: Jamie & Steve Live at Big Bens, Charlotte NC
One of my favorite EPs from 2013 is Jamie & Steve’s Imaginary Cafe. Having been released the first of this year, I’ve had a few chances to see Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel (of Spongtones fame) perform songs from this and their other EPs in settings from clubs to acoustic venues. So when the opportunity presented itself to hear them perform in an English pub, I couldn’t resist checking it out.
Expectations being what they were, I expected to hear recent favorites from Imaginary Cafe, The Next Big Thing, and English Afterthoughts. Maybe even a Spongetones song or two.
Relying heavily on British Invasion covers with a few originals sprinkled in from those familiar with these three EPs, the evening proved to be a great deal of fun albeit not what I had expected.
Bringing their guitars with them as they alternated from table to table, the guys offered up songs from The Kinks, Hollies, and of course a big helpin’ of Beatles tunes. Their cover of “She’s Leaving Home” was a pleasure to hear along with Roy Orbinson’s “Cryin'”, a song that is a tremendous challenge to sing well, and Stoeckel did exactly that. “Imaginary Cafe”, “Emily’s Ghost”, and a few other originals fit in very well with the Brit inspired covers performed throughout the night.
They even worked in a Jimmy Webb / Glen Campbell number along with some Everly Brothers, to accommodate the glut of songs needed to perform three sets, I suppose. These songs were a bit of a change-up and a pleasure to hear as they added a little bit of variety in genre.
The atmosphere being a pub, there was a bit more peripheral noise than one might like, making if difficult at times to hear clearly. Even so, Jamie & Steve had the whole place yelling the chorus to the old Beatles favorite “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” to finish one set and, if memory serves, topped off another set with an awesome version of McCarney’s Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey that will truly amaze. Having this much fun is illegal in certain countries, I’d told.
If you’ve not had the opportunity to check out one of Jamie & Steve’s three EPs of original material, it’s time you do so, particularly if you’re fond of English Invasion inspired, hook-laden powerpop. Or check out Steve’s recent contribution to one of this blog’s favorites, This is Rock n Roll Radio with Dana and Carl.
If you should find yourself in Charlotte some time soon, check out their show schedule. A splendid time is guaranteed to all.