With Emarosa and Dance Gavin Dance's former
front man Jonny Craig leaving his hardcore bands
behind and going for a "No Hassle" solo
approach tonight looked like it would be another
great night at The Croft. Doors opened at 7:30,
with a small queue to get in, but it was over
an hour before the music started. This gave everybody
a chance to hit the bar, while Jonny mixed and
mingled signing autographs and taking pictures.
First up was Dae Bryson Rapping with Jonny
Craig running things from the MacBook at the back
of the room. The main room started to fill as
people heard something starting to stir, as the
set was opened with "Everything I Do I Do
For You". The song got a little applause,
which Dae took to be positive, and got the crowd
to sing happy birthday for a friend of his, though
it was only a mild effort. "P.O.B" and
"Ex Hole" followed with Jonny throwing
in a few lines on the latter, and that just highlighted
the difference between a proper singer and someone
who wants to be one. During the 4th track "Sky
High" Jonny messed up the computer causing
the end of the track to jump. "Orletta's
Ocean" was the last song of the set, but
fell into the same mediocre pack as the rest.
Whilst Dae is quite confident and comfortable
on stage his singing lacked and the background
"Beats" were exactly that, background.
Next up was Ed Tullet with his chilled out
acoustic style similar to Austin Lucas. A vast
improvement over Dae, Ed hit some surprisingly
strong low notes. I enjoyed listening to "Rewards/Forfeits"
and "Eventual Body". which threw me
back to the first time I heard The Shins "New
Slang". The room started to fill up though
Ed's set, and each song earning him an applause.
Sadly his set was cut short after just four songs
due to a bad finger, but his final song "Skeletons"
went down very well with the crowd. Whilst some
of the lyrics made little sense and maybe lacked
some depth he had a pretty good voice, and some
nice guitar riffs there isn't much more you want
in a solo support act in a venue like this. I'd
like to catch a full set some time.
The final act of the night, the incredibly talented
Jonny Craig took to the stage a bit earlier
than expected due to Ed's short set. Dae took
charge of the computer for this set as Jonny played
though tracks off "A Dream Is a Question
You Don't Know How To Answer" starting with
"7 AM, 2 Bottles, and the Wrong Road",
"I've I've Been Hearing That You're Freaky"
and "Taking Time for All the Wrong Things"
which he stopped early on as the crowd weren't
singing, before moving on to "What I Would
Give to Be Australian". Throwing in a bit
of banter, and a CD perfect sound would normally
make for a pretty good gig, but there was a hollow
feel to the set. In spite of Jonny's incredible
voice, with a slightly scratch edge at times and
the ability to sing those ridiculously powerful
high notes the room was void of atmosphere and
there was little more to offer than simply listening
to the album on iTunes, which other than the vocals
was in fact the case.
Jonny did the standard complementary shout out
to the two opening acts before the set then took
a positive turn when Dae picked up an acoustic
for the last 5 tracks. Whilst most of the guitar
was fairly simple the simple fact that it was
live music added something to the atmosphere.
The first track "No Body Ever Will"
a new song, was my favourite of the night with
the volume of the guitar perfect for Jonny's singing
and the noise in the room. He then played Justin
Timberlake's "Cry Me A River" which
got the crowd singing a bit but this disappeared
as quickly as it came about inspire of following
up with a 2nd cover of The Rolling Stones "Moma
Weekly". The set was tied up after only 45
min's with to freestyles, which show that a truly
talented singer doesn't need incredible lyrics.
I was impressed by the freestyles, though I'm
not sure how much was made up on the spot, and
Jonny Craig is the best singer I've seen in The
Croft without a doubt, as well as one of the best
live vocalists I've ever seen. However with the
speakers filled with pre-recorded music drained
the atmosphere from his singing. Live music and
a bit more emotion, would have caused that room
to explode. With all of his issues with addiction
and the internet scandal many though this was
Jonny Craig coming back from the dead and on a
rise to the top, but sadly it didn't feel like
much more than a DJ set. This was my first show
with a vocalist singing over backing tracks, and
with all of his undeniable talent Jonny couldn't
give the show that energy and uniqueness of a
fully live show, I'm not sure I'd want to see
anyone else attempt it either.
Dae Bryson 2/5
Ed Tullett 3/5
Jonny Craig 3/5
Review By Marc Rich