CAVE IN+ Jacob's Stories. Zodiac, Oxford. 06.03.06

It's difficult to use up all of the English languages' positive adjectives in one review but here goes.

How often does someone chatting over your shoulder ruin a perfectly good gig? Well for Jacob’s Stories it kind of makes sense, if only because they are so fantastically, amazingly brilliant their ethereal and angelic tunes block every other sound out.

Having taken many forms in the past, all revolving around one Stuart Lee, tonight JS are a two person band with Lee's light but utterly captivating vocals augmented by his own beats and synths and accompanying violin player. They craft the stuff of egg-sized goosebumps, the sort of music that allows you to think that everything’s going to be OK. By the middle of their set, no one is talking within 15 miles of the Zodiac. Probably. Inside at least, everyone is listening.

After that, Cave In could have seemed brutish and clumsy. Well, after that, any band could, but although they inhabit the exact opposite end of the volume knob, Stephen Brodsky and company make music that appeals to the heart and the soul and for all the same reasons. Despite their near flawless evolution from hardcore screamers to drone rock balladeers and back again, Cave In remain criminally underrated. However, the chance to catch them and their moving, affecting songs this close up is a rare thing indeed. But rarity, it seems, is to be the norm tonight.

Cave In are ill. Brodsky's voice cracks and squeaks, he coughs his lines and stops to sip lemon juice. It shows but it doesn’t matter. They are a piledriver, a heady rock band but with a coach-sized spirit, a wealth of talent and a veritable treasure chest of songs to choose from. They jam riffs, thinking what they can play that might save some tonsils and they make up the set list as they go, advised by non-stop requests. They pick out gems like 'World Is In Your Way', 'Trepanning', 'Off to Ruin' and 'Dark Driving', songs that other bands would kill for, and toss them out to a steadily more receptive crowd. And when Brodsky’s voice finally blows out on ‘Big Riff’ and he asks Stuart Lee to the front the result is magnetic. Singer-less and sick Cave In are still magnificent

It may sound like clunky, karaoke, Spinal Tap-like hell but this was once in a gig-going lifetime stuff, the sort of thing that will never ever happen again.

Breathtaking. Exceptional. Perfect.

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