LIVE: Jonny Cola & The A-Grades Farewell Show, Buffalo Bar Islington 30/08/14
Long term Pure Rawk favourites Jonny Cola & The A-Grades played their final show on Saturday, and frankly, we’re sad to see them go.
You know, sometimes you go and see a band and they’re quite good. So you go to see them again, and maybe buy their record, have a beer after the show perhaps. And then maybe someone you know joins the band. And then people you know start working for the band. Before you know it, things have snowballed and you’re writing features about them, appearing in their music videos and you’ve seen them best part of thirty times in just a few short years. Such a band for me are Jonny Cola and The A-Grades.
Playing a quirky British take on glam rock that you just don’t seem to be able to get anywhere else these days, The A-Grades mix grandiose swooning camp with stomping guitar melodies and an unswerving sense of fun. They write songs that comment sharply and keenly about the very specifics of your 21st century urban existence, the wider existential mysteries of the heart, and also about blowjobs. They are your new favourite band. And this is their last show.
Yep, that’s right, last show. After tonight the band go on “indefinite hiatus” to work on other things, which came as a shock to everyone when they announced it. Sure, shows and releases have been a bit more sparse lately, but when they have come, they’ve been as good as ever, possibly better. I can see what they’re getting at, quitting on a high rather than becoming a fading force, but still, it all seems a bit premature for a band that still have a lot to give.
Islington’s tiny Buffalo Bar is packed out for them tonight, and whilst they aren’t quite queuing round the block, it’s very quickly one in one out, as anyone who has ever followed them jostles to be there just one more time. A tight greatest hits set of classic Cola numbers is delivered by a band at the top of their game to a ravenous and boisterous audience, with the visual one-two that is Venagas and eponymous frontman Jonny Cola ricocheting personalities across the Buffalo’s tiny stage, daring you to take your eyes off them for even a minute.
All too soon though we’re into the encore, and it’s all gone very Velvet Goldmine. Jonny is stood there, topless bar a thick coating of glitter, announcing their final number Ripples, quite unashamedly calculated to tug at the heart strings, and as the evocative piano intro kicks in, there are a few damp eyes in the room. Building to a massive guitar crescendo and instrumental breakdown, the band let out every last ounce of energy, and there’s a group hug onstage. And then they’re gone.
A spectacular and fitting last showing for one of the best new bands we here at Pure Rawk have seen in years. Farewell A-Grades, you will be missed.