Most guitar aficionados know exactly how long the notoriously complex opening music of ‘Hotel California’ lasts, until right before Don Henley launches languidly into “On a dark desert highway” — two minutes and eight seconds. It was what a music critic once sorrowfully described as “agony and ecstasy”, because while the splendid guitar riffs and the beats of the percussion are hauntingly evocative, you’re also waiting edgily for Henley’s deep, rough, breathy voice to break into it.
JusforKicks seem to know this very well. Which is why, just as they hit that one last beat on the song’s opening, they stopped, and announced, very politely, that they were taking a break. The audience broke out half in laughter and half in groans. And, there was nothing we could do but wait.
The seven musicians of JusforKicks united after six years for a tribute concert to the Eagles, with an evening dedicated entirely to the music of the legendary rock band.
It took them a couple of songs to warm up; then they were off, moving back and forth between songs old and the new, country and rock, on romance and freedom. The song list had been put together well, giving the audience everything they wanted to hear, while introducing them to the Eagles’ esoteric songs as well.
You could spot a vest, a tucked-in shirt, even neatly combed hair — none of that faux long-haired-leather-clad look that many assume rock demands. There was a sense of complete ease onstage, and that showed in their music, like the smooth, comfortable feel of the band they were commemorating.
It was the songs that swerved from the archetypal music of the Eagles that saw the best performances from JfK; such as the staccato beats and commanding guitar of ‘Victim of Love’ sung by Richard Nathan, and ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ by Sujan Daniel. There was the magic of ‘Witchy Woman’, and the calm of ‘Peaceful Easy Feelin’, while Tim Elliot and Vikram Vivekanand’s guitars navigated the knotty chords and tumultuous notes.
By the second half of the concert, they’d all loosened up, dancing across the stage, their music noticeably more expressive. Richard was evidently itching to get his hands on a six-string, persistently holding an imaginary guitar, his fingers diligently strumming and playing the chords.
Another classic that was beautifully executed was the one beseeching the ‘Desperado’ to come to his senses, and to let someone love him — if he were listening, he probably would have listened to them. One of the most powerful songs of the Eagles, ‘The Last Resort’, about the Native Americans displaced from their lands, guided by Shayne Fernandez on the keyboards, was delivered with just the right amount of tenderness, nostalgia and rage.
When ‘Hotel California’ finally did come, it was tinged with a tad bit of uncertainty, with forgotten lyrics and abrupt pauses, saved only by the guitars, the brilliant base from Gerard Joseph and the solid percussion of Immanuel Theophles, to make it a reasonably good cover.
Though, we most certainly could have done without the garish red and pink lights reminiscent of bad cabarets, the frail spotlights that sputtered and gasped, and most importantly, that one agonisingly scratchy speaker that made you want to leap onstage and kick it over.
But considering the enormity of the task, performing the music of legends, JfK did spectacularly, bringing that elusive atmosphere of the band’s music to the Museum Theatre for a few hours; recreating it in the mysterious spaces that lie somewhere between the lyrics, the chord progressions, and the beats.