Now Jay Kay is an enigma, there’s no doubt about that. He kind of took over the music industry for a decade, made a ton of cosmic hits, punched a few photographers, wowed a few famous ladies, lived high up there somewhere in the clouds, then retreated into self-inflicted obscurity with his unique fashions and sports cars and cheeky wide-boy grin. After a long period away from the live scene, he emerged at 9:20pm on the Lytham Festival stage, after the crowd had been thoroughly entertained by a provocative, disco-crazed Jake Shears, in his notorious feathered headdress and tracksuit, albeit chunkier and showing the signs of age, but no less energetic. The crowd went wild for him, and he responded instantly with a hit-heavy demonstration of exactly how to entertain a festival crowd.
Did you know that Jay Kay was from Blackburn? Well, you do now. This was, as he explained between numbers, a home gig of sorts for the widely recognised ‘southern’ playboy. In fact, his between-song banter was great all night, entertaining a thrilled crowd of largely aged and let-loose-for-one-night-only 90’s kids (I heard one bloke comment on how excited he was to be sharing the first evening of the year without the kids!) with anecdotes and meditations of the state of music now, as well as self-deprecating requests for some donuts and churros in reaction to the neon food vendors lighting up the edges of the brilliant little festival grounds. In short, Jay Kay may be older, but he’s still as cool as they come. He even broke out, on occasion, into his uber-slick dance routines that helped define him as a younger performer. The moves were still there, even with an extra few stone in tow.
Jamiroquai’s Lytham venture was part of celebrating 30 years as a band, and what a catalogue of absolute tunes they have served up in those three decades. Opening with Main Vein from 2001’s classic album A Funk Odyssey, this impressive band of stellar musicians grooved smoothly through a nostalgic, space-tinged journey, of course encompassing the likes of Little L, my all-time favourite college tune, Cosmic Girl, the disco-full Canned Heat, Emergency On Planet Earth and the irresistible Space Cowboy. But don’t be fooled – Jamiroquai are no nostalgia act. They are as relevant now as ever. The gig never once turned pedestrian, and their eponymous classic, and final tune of the evening, Virtual Insanity, lit the stars around the Ribble Estuary.
Jamiroquai arrived on planet Earth in the 1990s, led by the young, jazz-infused soul man, Jay Kay. Time goes so fast, but great music never loses its appeal. With over 27 million album sales, Grammy Awards, Ivor Novello gongs and multiple sold-out world tours, it’s a band that have secured their place in British music’s highest echelons, and this performance at the Lytham Festival will, hopefully, inspire a resurgence on the live scene and maybe even more albums from an outfit that simply MUST be watched should they come round again.
Photo Credit: Jon Rhodes