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Friday, Aug. 31, 2007
By JOE KERN
Jack Peñate wants to inject human feeling into pop music again. And not just in the vocals — he wants it in every last note played. He and his crack band, Joel Porter (bass) and Alex Robins (drums), play a lively, sometimes frenetic mix of rockabilly, country, rock 'n' roll, Latin, lounge jazz and probably 10 other genres, demonstrating a mastery of not just the broad strokes of the idioms, but of the subtleties that make them soar and your booty move. It's pure throwback music, the 1980s version of the '50s.
Peñate has spent the last few years as a regular in the London live-music club scene, but things really heated up this summer. After playing the Glastonbury Festival in June, his single "Torn On The Platform" hit No. 4 on the U.K. charts, shooting him from an indie sensation to a bona-fide pop act. Their first album, the crisply produced "Matinee," is due out on Oct. 1.
The guitarist has a honey-smooth, high tenor, full of grace and power, and a great accent much like The Cure's Robert Smith. Then there's his look: he's a tall, stout man who wears a sports coat and collar shirt like he was wooing a room of '50s high-school girls. He oozes confidence and, in his quieter songs, the clincher for female fans: sensitivity.
The real story here though is his live set. The music is tailor-made for insanity to happen on the floor, and all reports indicate that the band take it to the limit. He has built up a following of young Brits looking for musical catharsis without the tacky or ironic indie-rock moments. Fans go crazy, climb on stage, and Peñate dances jigs without self-consciousness. Catch them now to experience the energy of an intimate club show before the band gets too big.
Jack Peñate plays Sept. 3, 7 p.m. at Astro Hall in Harajuku, Tokyo; tickets ¥3,900. For more information call 03-3462-6969 or visit www.creativeman.co.jp