Not only did I fly across the Atlantic to see Lemon Jelly, I did it twice. The first time was in 2003, when Mrs. Stubs and Stories and I planned a UK trip in part around seeing Lemon Jelly. Unfortunately, the band canceled that tour after we’d booked our trip, so we didn’t get to see them then.
The second time was the charm, though. This show, in Manchester, was a rollicking good time. If you know anything about Lemon Jelly, you know that they have ways of making things special, whether it’s their album artwork, gatefold covers, colored vinyl pressings and more. Just look at the ticket stub — a bit nicer than your average slab of cardboard (though not as clever as when the band did shows where the tickets consisted of special T-shirts that concertgoers wore to get inside).
For this show, the band had a chalkboard set up near the entrance where attendees could scrawl messages that were displayed on a big screen inside the theater. There also was a stand selling old vinyl records that Lemon Jelly’s Fred Deakin pulled from his personal collection of thrift-store finds. Before the concert, the band held a brief quiz game, with audience members getting prizes for shouting out correct answers.
Then there was the concert itself. Playing before an elaborate light show that cost enough to render the tour unprofitable, the Jellies served up many favorites from their catalog. Some tunes were reworked with new instrumentation played live. Others incorporated new samples, notably the mashup of “Ramblin’ Man” with a Giorgio Moroder number.
After the concert, Fred Deakin played a hastily arranged DJ set at a student union nearby. His eclectic selection was great fun to hear.