Jamie Lenman + Blank Atlas + Moosehead live @ the Junction, Plymouth - 18th May 2023

They say don't meet your heroes, don't they? They say you'll be disappointed, let down. Those people
are wrong and I'll tell you why in a few paragraphs but first lets deal with two of the best support bands I've ever seen on a bill that was perfectly designed to create the right vibe and raise the energy levels of the packed out Junction in Plymouth. Cornish five piece Moosehead squeezed themselves and their considerable kit on to the stage and, I will admit, I feared this might be a case of having all the gear but no idea how to get the most out of it. I was wrong. What followed was a loud, intense and groove-heavy set of original rock songs that borrowed from the worlds of grunge, sludge and metal which had the whole venue not only paying attention but getting involved. With songs about Hunter S. Thompson, US police brutality and a dedication to the memory of Chris Cornell, the band pinned their colours to the mast which was only outshone by the whirling dervish of a frontman in a shirt so yellow it could probably get him access to any number of building sites. 

Next up where the four members of Bristolian trio Blank Atlas and, no, I haven't lost the ability to count. Due to cancelled gig, the deputising bassist was no longer needed but they brought him along for the ride which meant a couple of songs with double bass work (i.e. two bassists, not one double bass). For three unassuming looking guys and a Weird Al lookalike, these guys make one hell of a racket but through all the blistering riffage shines some outstanding vocal harmonies, melodies to die for and the kind of hooks you could use to catch the Lochness Monster. The best bit, however, is how Blank Atlas bounce from West Coast skate punk vibe to Biffy's angular riffs to Dutch Uncles' improbable time signatures and the sheer power of Crazy Arm - all done with a demure smile, some gentle banter and more energy than the stage allowed them to burn off. 

And so to heroes. Jamie Lenman is an artist I have oft championed both on and off this blog, a man who's honest song writing has got me through a number of difficult times and an icon unrecognised in his own time. So he was bound to let me and everyone else done, yeah? Well he didn't. Striding on to the stage with his brother and sister in arms, Lenman launched straight in to 'This Is All There Is', the brilliantly sobering opener to his latest album, 'The Atheist'. What nobody in the room expected was for Lenman and Co. to then play the whole album, in order of course, with 'Talk Hard', 'Lena Don't Leave Me' and 'This Town Will Never Let Us Go' being stand-out highlights. 

Another highlight was the boundless enthusiasm, charm and chat that oozed from Lenman on stage like
he was playing to a room full of his best mates but that's kind of what this is. When you consistently bare your soul in every song on issues ranging from the unconditional love of and for your wife to hating someone whilst simultaneously loving their music, people will grow to love you through knowing you and knowing themselves because of that. The adoration that rushed on to the stage was the perfect tonic for Lenman as his voice was, by his own admission, flagging on the penultimate date of his UK tour. But once the album run through was done we were treated to older solo material ('Hardbeat' sounded epic live) and even a dip back in to the Reuben archives with a blisteringly good run through of 'Agony/Agatha'. And, my friends, it was joyous for everyone involved. 

Now, I don't mind admitting that I got a little star struck and found myself edging slowly to the back of the venue as every song I loved came pouring out of the speakers but the experience was absolutely everything I could have hoped for and much, much more. So, sure, I didn't exactly meet my hero but I spent a great evening in the same room as him and then bought a T-shirt of his wife who was running the merch stand so we're basically mates now, right? That's what I thought. Meet your heroes, it's ace. 

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