“You’re ap­proach­ing 30 and you feel you have to com­pletely con­sume your youth. You’re push­ing it maybe. I think, with all these things, it’s just bad luck”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

KURT COBAIN, Jimi Hen­drix and Amy Wine­house, to name but a few, are bound to­gether by their deaths – all at the age of 27 – and their out­stand­ing back cat­a­logues of mu­sic that Ir­ish singer Jack L has tapped into for his lat­est show, The 27 Club.

The show which he de­scribes as a “mu­si­cal time ma­chine” had its de­but at the Ed­in­burgh Fringe Fes­ti­val and is on its way to Dublin. The idea came to Jack last year when he was pre­sent­ing the Lyric FM show, High Fi­delity. “It was the his­tory of recorded song and it went from Edi­son to the iPod and the re­cur­ring num­ber was 27. It was re­oc­cur­ring from Robert John­son, who died in 1938; and in the 1960s you had a whole load of pi­o­neers such as Jimi Hen­drix, Jim Mor­ri­son, Janis Jo­plin and Brian Jones. And then you moved up to the 1990s, you had Kurt Cobain and then Amy Wine­house last year. The show is an homage to the peo­ple who died and it’s also a his­tory of mu­sic.”

The club has given him the chance to per­form favourites from Hen­drix, Echo and the Bun­ny­men, Canned Heat and Nir­vana. It has also pre­sented other acts to him in a new light. As a self-pro­claimed “Bea­tles man”, he has de­vel­oped an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for The Rolling Stones through Brian Jones’ mem­ber­ship, and an even greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion for a more re­cent mem­ber, Amy Wine­house.

“It’s been a thrill to sing Amy Wine­house’s songs and look at how good they were. They would be fit for Si­na­tra to sing,” he says. Wine­house’s mu­sic is prac­ti­cally per­fect, says Jack.

“When you look at his [Si­na­tra’s] songs, in ar­chi­tec­tural terms, they’d be known as the ‘gold circle’. They’re per­fect. The lyrics are per­fect. The ar­range­ments are per­fect. From a song­writ­ing point of view, you can see why they’re clas­sics, and look­ing at Amy Wine­house songs, you can see the same qual­ity.”

Jack’s the­ory be­hind the 27 Club is that death can strike at any time, but with the life­style of a mu­si­cian/rock star, he­do­nism can un­for­tu­nately get the bet­ter of some. “I think that peo­ple die at ev­ery age. Maybe that’s the point in your life [aged 27] when you’re go­ing as hard as you can, maybe you’ve been can­ing it for a few years and that’s when it falls asun­der, but I don’t know re­ally.”

“You’re ap­proach­ing 30 and you feel you have to com­pletely con­sume your youth. You’re push­ing it, maybe. I think, with all these things, it’s just bad luck.

“The mu­sic busi­ness is a tough busi­ness. It is an al­ter­na­tive life­style and an al­ter­na­tive ap­proach to see­ing life and the world. You’re out when­ever you’re work­ing. It’s a so­cial oc­ca­sion for ev­ery­one else, so you can be on the piss the whole time, if you want. It will slowly grind you down and maybe you just get un­lucky and you join the 27 Club.”

How­ever, he tends not to fo­cus too much on the con­spir­a­cies be­cause it al­ways brings you back to the one thing – the Il­lu­mi­nati.

“If you look it up on the in­ter­net, you will even­tu­ally arrive at the Il­lu­mi­nati and that the Il­lu­mi­nati killed them all. But if you look at any­thing long enough on the in­ter­net you’ll get to the Il­lu­mi­nati. The in­ter­net will drive you crazy, if you let it. You’re bet­ter off to go stand in a field and look around . . .”

With a ca­reer span­ning more than two decades, Jack’s ap­proach to per­form­ing re­flects the fragility and un­pre­dictabil­ity of life.

“Ev­ery­body likes to leave a movie or a gig on a high, and that’s all you try to do when you do a gig. You just try to shift re­al­ity so that peo­ple for­get about ev­ery­thing and get lost in the mo­ment. That’s what mu­sic does. It sounds corny, but I sing ev­ery gig like it’s my last gig be­cause it might be.”

“As with the 27 Club, you’re only here for a short time; you don’t know when you’re go­ing to go, so you’ve got to do what you do. Since I can re­mem­ber, mu­sic has been in me and it’s the only thing I’ve wanted to do. That’s what keeps me go­ing.”

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