When a singer you adore plays a venue you absolutely love for free, it doesn’t matter that you have to be up at stupid o’clock the next day to go to work. Nothing matters when you’re completely immersed in music and your surroundings.
A few months ago I saw Juan play The Lock Tavern and Shacklewell Arms the night after, both shows were insane and with a full band. This time, it was just Juan and his guitar. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew it would be something that would stay on my mind for some time. If you’ve ever seen one of Tall Juan’s shows, you’ll see just how much he puts into it and how everything that watches him just ends up being besotted with him. He’s got this beautiful and endearing personality that just draws you in, and makes you love his music even more. His music is Rockabilly clashing with the Ramones.
His set is fast, brutally fast. His songs are played with such urgency and a passion that is highly addictive. He takes you back to when Punk first emerged, and you can’t help but think Joey Ramones soul is buried inside of Juan. Somehow. He makes his acoustic guitar sound like a ferocious weapon but at the same time makes you want to dance, or just through your body round in an unconventional manner.
He played a couple of covers in his set, and ended with his brilliant cover of I Wanna Be Your Dog. He nails the opening to the song in a way that The Stooges didn’t, and makes you question if you still like the original or not (you do, of course you do but this is something else.) He blasts his way through Commando by the Ramones but from a personal view there’s one cover he does that just made my night. Last year when I first wrote about Juan, I mentioned my love for his take on Chinese Rock by the Ramones and any chance I get to talk about Juan or to Juan, I always mention it. So on Wednesday evening, just before he ripped into his perfect version of Chinese Rock, he dedicated it to me. Sure I felt like I won the lottery but I was also super proud of my friend on stage making all these people feel good and getting them to move about. His love for the Ramones is obvious, it’s obvious in everyone who loves that band. And just like Juan, I first heard them when I was 7/8 years ago- it stays with you and their music influences you in so many ways. To see someone like Juan emulate in a way, all that Joey Ramone was is such a lovely thing to see- he makes you believe in music again. There’s no one else that’s quite like Juan, and this passion he has for making music and playing shows is nothing short of admirable.
I always feel much better after I’ve been to one of his shows, it’s like a kickstart to the gut. I’d highly recommend seeing him wherever and whenever you can. His music is for those who like to put on some headphones and zone out from the world for a while. I like to listen to him on my way to work because I can’t deal with how rude some people are in London at the moment, it’s the ideal way to block it all out. I’m just not cut out for a busy place and Juan’s music is that perfect escape. His shows are exactly the same.
I’ve said it many times before about Juan- he’s the Punk hero we need. Punk isn’t dead, far from it. It’s in people like Juan. It’s still there, and always will be.
Once you’ve listened to his music, shall we all just pack up our stuff and run off to Far Rockaway?