The bill: Jack In The Box
Date: March 19, 2010
Jack in the Box, a Norwegian band probably quite unknown to the majority of the metal fans. Hopefully not for long. The band released one EP entitled "Rockjumping" in 1993 and one CD, "Stigma", two years after. When I first heard the album I though it was pretty decent, put in the CD shelf and forgot about it for a few weeks. After a while I decided to give it another try. This time it hit me quite hard, and it just kept growing and growing. I was in quite a King's X phase at the time, and Jack in the Box was the perfect complement. They were sort of in the same genre, but at the same time had something completely different. Heavy, quirky hard rock with great and pretty odd harmonies. Being a musician and a guitarist myself, I immediately fell for the way they arranged the songs. It often meant the song was based on a riff, which at times was played in unison, bass and guitar, but in the verse the guitars played something completely different, with the bass keeping the riff going, like in "Butterfly" or "French Fries For Breakfast". I longed for the second album, which unfortunately never came as the band parted ways with singer Erik Si, changed their name to Autopulver and changed their style to an easier accessible, and to me way less interesting shape of rock/hard rock. I however never grew out of "Stigma", on the contrary. It was, and still is, one of my top 10 albums EVER. So, when I read Jack in the Box was re-uniting for a show in Norway I booked the trip, hotel and bought the ticket in a split second. I just HAD to see them.
Gamla is a small, but nice club in the centre of Oslo, only a few blocks from the central station, and only a three minute walk from our hotel. Perfect! Never been there before, but I'd sure like to back. I was a bit worried about what it would sound like when I saw the seemingly under-dimensioned sound system and the, after a while quite annoying intro tape which was more like synth noise increasing in intensity to finally decrease... and then start again. It kept going for over an hour and it didn't sound good over the PA. I was concerned. However, as the band entered the stage and the first tones of the excellent "Challenge Chamber Champagne" entered my ears, all doubts were totally blown away. The sound was surprisingly enough - Outstanding! I had forgotten my earplugs, but there was no need for them. The sound was well balanced, fat and heavy and with every single instrument, AND vocals, coming over crystal clear and at a perfect level. Hell, I can't even remember when I said that the last time! All hails to the soundman!
So, re-unions can go either way, sound really good, or sound dated, lame and like the band is fighting to remember the songs and moves. Forget that, Jack in the Box looked and sounded like this was a couple of gigs into their first tour after the release of "Stigma". Every T was crossed, every i dotted and the band looked as relaxed as ever. These guys were well rehearsed, that’s for sure. They had also made some really cool re-arrangements to some of the songs, which really surprised me in a positive way. The place was packed, these people were fans, and most of them even knew all the lyrics and would follow all the hints of singer Erik, who, besides sounding slightly strained at times, has a killer voice. Like the intro of the outstanding "Butterfly", where he had the audience scream the intro-scream. In my humble opinion the "Rockjumping" EP was really good, but the album way better. However, when the band played the tracks from the EP, like “Incapable”, “Funeral Fake” and "Dancing With Ethel", I realized they now sounded as they had been raised to the level of the album.
Jack in the Box was missing guitarist Espen who had broken his elbow in a snowboard accident, but had instead been reinforced with guitarist Bjørn Rummelhoff-Hansen, who had only been rehearsing with the band for three weeks. Well, I didn't notice and I don't think anybody else did either as he did a killer job. The remaining members were Lars “Eric Si” Eikind on vocals, Victor Borge on bass, Frode Lamøy drums and Rune Lamøy on guitar.
Of course there were encores, two of them. One being the really cool track “Cascades Of Light” from the band's first demo, even before the band was blessed with singer Lars. Well, it was no different in sound and quality from the rest, pure Jack magic! If (when) they come to Sweden, I’ll be there again, banging along and singing along!
Challenge Chamber Champagne