Live at Royal Park Cellars on Friday, 23rd March 2001
Juno 2 are a band I've heard a lot about but only seen play live once. They didn't particularly blow me away on that occasion, although I seem to remember thinking at the time that they had some good songs and could be great, if only they'd perform a little.
They're job here tonight is made no easier by two very good support bands, Garlic and Being 747 who both performed excellently and proved to be very good at what they did.
According to one guitarist Juno 2 weren't playing to their regular crowd because "the fucking students all buggered off early didn't they". Despite this, the RPC was as packed out as it can get, although whom some of the audience were there to see is a mystery. Certainly a few left before Juno 2 even took to the stage.
When they (eventually) began it certainly made a few people stand up and take notice. Amid a hail of feedback and sweeping keyboards they took the stage, drowning out Steve Kinds usual introduction. Unfortunately, rather than taking advantage of this momentum, they began with a few slow songs that were nothing more than run-of-the-mill indie, albeit with some nice melodies and competent musicianship. Their third or fourth number was the first to stand out, with the guitarist putting away his guitar and taking centre stage for a keyboard-heavy Tricky/Portishead type song, which, while simple, proved to be particularly evocative and effective.
After this they picked up the pace with a few faster numbers, aided by their traditional instrument-changing, allowing them to have as many keyboards or guitar as a song requires, along with the choice of three singers. On the louder songs they showed their style to be a pleasant middle-ground between synth-pop and punk, aided by slick, machine-gun style drumming and tight, catchy basslines. The songs stood apart well from each-other, not going anywhere near the "they all sound the same" area, while still maintaining a coherent theme. By three-quarters of the way through the set it was obvious who was there to see Juno 2 with the (apparently) better known songs being greeted by smiles and recognition and a bit of dancing. It was also plain to see how much the band themselves were enjoying it with enthusiastic grins replacing the previously sombre expressions.
When they finally finished, amid more crashing guitars and looking close to exhaustion, they were called back by an insistently enthusiastic crowd for a one song encore. Overall Juno 2 seem to be a band who can put on a good show, especially if you like their style of music, look good while they do it, and seem to enjoy themselves, although a bit more chat with the crowd wouldn't go amiss.
Special mention must go to the venue and especially the lights and dry-ice, which gave real drama and helped make the otherwise crowded stage a professional look. A good evening.