Jon McClure, of Reverend and the Makers, takes his nickname ‘The Reverend’ very seriously, pontificating on everything from record labels (“all they want to do is sell things, it’s a capitalist industry, right”) to Tony Blair (“I think he’s awful”), and joking about his thoughts on watching an entire pub, led by celebrities on TV, salute Arthur Guinness during the recent celebrations in Dublin (“it was like the Nuremburg Rally or something, like they’re all doing Heil Hitler with their pint of Guinness”). Living up to his reputation as a ‘loud Northern bloke’, the Sheffield native wanted to use his time with the music press to tell them exactly how much he despised…the music press. “My beef is with the media and the way they report things,” he said, explaining that it had driven him to set up his own freesheet called The Ark, which will be mainly written by young people in the UK and then distributed by them in their hometowns.
“The standard of British music journalism is terrible, so I don’t think they can make it worse,” he said of the contributors to The Ark. Earlier, he had noted: “There’s a lot to be angry about, now nobody seems to want to do it. And the reason they don’t want to do it is if they do do it, what is the press gonna say about it? Travis did it. Remember when Travis came back after ‘The Man Who’, which was one of the biggest selling albums at the time, sold millions and millions of copies, came back with a political album about Iraq, and the press just shut down on them.”
McClure is eager to tell people his thoughts on the way the music industry is run, which is something he feels very strongly about. “What most people don’t realise is that the music industry is overwhelmingly run by white, middle-class men, which means if you’re a woman or you’re from the North, or particularly a community which is orientated [sic] by black people or politically-motivated people, the door is continually slammed shut in your face, and I could give you several examples of that but I’ve been threatened with a lawsuit,” he commented.
For McClure, his word is truth and those who don’t believe it are sucking from the teats of the corporate beast. “They know what I’m doing is the right thing – everyone. But the people who won’t admit it are the ones who are in it,” he sighed. “All you’re getting is, oh that was successful, and they look a bit like the Libertines, and we made loads of money when the Libertines were out, so let’s do that then. See what I’m saying? Stagnation man, stagnation.” He also brought up his issues with hugely successful artists such as Lily Allen speaking out about filesharing. “People think just because I have these views, I’m some kind of communist. I’m not a communist at all, I don’t mind doing this [event]…I’m not saying people can’t earn a living, I’m saying come on, be fair.”
When McClure and co had finished their chats with the press, it was time for them to get back to rehearsals for the night’s show, where they would each get to showcase their own tracks while backed by the tighter-than-tight New Silver Cornet Band. After a fantastic opening rendition of ‘Always on my Mind’ by Wayne Carson, Jon was up first. At the end of his set – which included ‘Heavweight Champion of the World’ and Love’s ‘This House is Not a Hotel’ – he was joined by Sex Pistol Glen Matlock to evoke the spirit of punk on a rendition of ‘Pretty Vacant’. Next up was Brett Anderson, who was as focused and passionate onstage as ever, performing stonking renditions of ‘Trash’, ‘Killing of a Flashboy’ and ‘The Wild Ones’, which brought the atmosphere up a notch. Carl Barat’s performance had a feel of the ‘English eccentric’ to it, with Carl in his fetching cravat and suit belting out ‘What Katy Did’ and a cover of Bertholt Brecht’s ‘Alabama Song’. But the real high point of the night was when Jon, Bret and Carl united for the show’s finale, a beefed up version of the Velvet Underground classic ‘Venus in Furs’. Funnily enough, it wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a smoky saloon back in Jack Daniel’s day.