LIVE: Jaret Reddick / The Lounge Kittens @ Islington Assembly Hall, London

By Jay Hampshire

Jaret Reddick has his finger in many a pop punk pie. Whether it’s fronting cheerfully tongue in cheek nostalgia favourites Bowling For Soup, hosting a film review podcast or getting animated (literally) on Phineas and Ferb, he’s certainly not adverse to doing something different. And his gig at the Islington Assembly Hall saw him doing just that – settling down for an evening of solo-acoustic songs, urbane anecdotes and heartfelt reminiscing.

First up are The Lounge Kittens, and the trio are on fine form, as hilarious as they are harmonious. Their jaunty takes on pop and rock classics has everyone singing and bopping along. Kicking in with a fitting pop punk medley, they throw in an energetic new cover of Foo Fighters’ ‘Breakout’, a fabulously filthy version of Steel Panther’s ‘Glory Hole’ and a nerd-tastic, nostalgia drenched assembly of kids show theme tunes that goes down a storm as several hundred fans belt out the Pok√©mon theme in unison. The colour coded ladies ladle on the saucy banter and bawdy badinage, leading the crowd in their signature ‘T-rexican wave’. Far from just being a novelty act, they’re wonderfully talented musicians, and their powerful pipes bring their set to a close with the rousing ‘Bangers Medley’, featuring a soaring ‘We Are The Champions’.

Mr Reddick receives a heroes welcome when he takes to the stage, acoustic guitar in hand. There’s a mix of pathos and joy weaved around his jangling, resonant chords. Bowling For Soup’s ‘If You Come Back To Me’ takes on new poignancy, ‘The Bitch Song’ is sung back by the crowd with relish. While the songs go down a storm, it’s the between song lapses that really make tonight special, as Jaret talks through the creative processes and inspirations for some track, shares witty anecdotes about the time he met Val Kilmer and makes references to Game Of Thrones incest. He focuses on tales of love and loss, always earnest, always relatable, and always with a foot firmly grounded in positivity and self deprecating humor. He’s grateful throughout, thanking his fans and all those involved in the tour behind the scenes.

There’s interaction with the crowd by the barrel full, resulting in Jaret being swiftly corrected on the correct way to reference Wetherspoons (‘it’s spoons!’), and he proclaims his love for the pub chain with a song specially written for them. He’s joined on stage by The Lounge Kittens for a fantastically upbeat version of ‘Girls All The Bad Guys Want’, and it’s clear from the huge cheers and bigger grins that the crowd have been thoroughly entertained. This wasn’t just a gig – Reddick proved himself a consummate showman and a truly humble, likeable guy. Lovely stuff.

JAY HAMPSHIRE