The Hootananny is rammed tonight as Nottingham’s Jimmy The Squirrel climb up to the four foot high stage to tower above the audience. The smell of the jerk chicken-grilling barbeque outside fills the air and the vibe couldn’t be more upbeat.
That is, until JTS kick it off with a seriously lively instrumental ska track that really has no room for words. The band themselves are a bit stiff at first – nervous, perhaps, in front of such a packed room – but already there are fans down the front who are dancing like their lives depend on it.
They play some album tracks, and a new song that juxtaposes seemingly melancholic lyrics with danceable rhythms. The new one could do with a bit more fine-tuning to cut it shorter, but the pace is kept steadily fast.
However, it’s when Daydreamer comes in, with its fantastically simple sing-along harmonies and excellently catchy bass line, that the room blows up and everyone gets moving. And they don’t stop for the rest of the night.
Throughout the set are short instrumental tracks that make you wonder why bands outside the realm of ska are so focussed on lyrics. This is time dedicated to dancing, with no concern for what the song is about. But it takes an instinctively tight band to pull them off. JTS have an amazing sense of rhythm, meaning you can hear the silence between every perfectly-timed off-beat chord stab – something much of the audience are having way too much fun to notice.
By the end of the night, the band’s following seems to have doubled in size. It was a big room to fill, but Jimmy The Squirrel have done it justice.