(I’ve written this up as an account of my week going to shows on the UK tour last month. I normally write a more detached review because I’m often reporting on shows across the Atlantic I haven’t attended! I’ve decided to write this in a bit more of a personal style which hopefully will bring back memories for those there, and give a taste of what it was like for those of you who weren’t. It was an amazing week - Craig)
On August 24, 1995 I took a day off work to see Juliana perform a 30 minute set at the Virgin Megastore on London’s Oxford Street. This was the day before she played the [Reading Festival].
It was lunchtime in a brightly lit store but it remains one of my favourite gigs ever. After all it was Juliana Hatfield playing with with drummer Todd Philips and bassist Dean Fisher. The band name had been retired by then but I was so thrilled to be watching The Juliana Hatfield Three.
I didn’t know it would be nearly 24 years before I’d see them perform together again!
Juliana’s UK tour in May 2019 - her first full band shows in Europe for a nearly a quarter of a century - was an opportunity not to be missed...
The week kicked off in an upstairs room in a Brighton pub and The Prince Albert is such a Brighton pub!
Situated right near the train station, with an exterior wall artwork devoted to musicians, this is clearly a regular home for Sussex indie types.
It’s easily the smallest venue the band would play in all week, and what could have been a low-key warmup show was anything but in these surroundings.
One of the hottest rooms I’ve ever seen a gig played gave the show a raw feel. It was super loud too!
After over two decades since Juliana had rocked out in the UK, the first sound the Brighton crowd heard was Juliana’s vocals:
“Na na na na na na Baby baby baby “
The set list would settle into a different order in subsequent shows, but here opening with that noise from Going Blonde seemed so appropriate.
It was such a tight little room that there was no backstage area. The only route to the dressing room was stepping off the stage into the crowd. When it came to the end of the set the band headed into a corner of the stage and realising their predicament quickly resumed their positions for the encore!
It was an awesome show. I always love visiting Brighton too. My week had only just begun though…
I was surprised when I saw that the London date was at Islington Academy. It’s a fair size venue for a band who hadn’t played in the city for 25 years but London did good and came out to fill the place. Juliana even joked on stage that she wasn’t sure if anyone would come.
I recalled the 2006 solo electric shows at Bush Hall as I looked around and saw so many smiling faces as we heard many of our favourite songs performed live for the fist time in ages, and in some cases the first time ever.
This was a special moment and it seemed like Juliana and the band could feel it too. It was amusing as she invited questions from the crowd during the set:
“What’s the best show you’ve ever played?” “This one! I like to live in the moment!”
London felt like a big celebration. It had been a gorgeous sunny day in the city. I spent the afternoon taking in exhibits at the Tate Modern and hanging out by the river, and was in a joyful mood by the time of the show. It was clear I wasn’t alone.
What a sound the band made here too.
It was delightful to hear If I Could. One my favourite Juliana songs again brought back memories of that London 2006 show, where it was still a newish song for me from the honour download thing. 13 years later it’s now an official Juliana Hatfield Three song, so it just had to be heard with Dean and Todd. Perfect.
This one was on a boat!
Charlie P had given me some background before we came - The Thekla is a former cargo ship, once owned and lived in by Vivian Stanshall’s family and used for musical theatre and cabaret in the 1980s.
The only times I’ve ever been to Bristol have been very brief visits. No change here but I did get to see a gorgeous part of the city. The whole wharf area is very picturesque, particularly in the early evening weather. I wish I could have seen more.
Probably the quietest crowd of the week for this one. My personality doesn’t lend itself to much shouting or whooping at shows and I think Bristol was full of people like me :D Maybe Juliana too who commented on stage that she wasn’t much of a noisemaker when attending shows. Probably the contrast in atmosphere from the previous night in London made this more noticeable from the stage.
Regardless of this, and what may have been some sound issues for the band, I loved this show!
The sound was great in the audience, and I found the unusual setting perfect for my tastes.
We had a double encore here too, Juliana returning to conclude with a couple of solo electric songs including a beautiful version of Suspended in Time, which she introduced as a song she likes to play when she has moments to herself. It was gorgeous.
I loved every show I saw all week but Bristol was my favourite.
It was also my first chance to say hi in person to Stacee, who was over visiting the UK for the first time for these shows. As we all know Stacee has contributed immensely to Juliana’s fan community from the official website, the old forum, all the wonderful photos, and so much more. If you haven’t seen the pictures posted during the week, I've included a few here from Juliana’s and Stacee’s Instagram for a flavour of life on the road with the band, and what it’s like on the other side of the stage. We all got to spend more time together again later in the week. It was a delight to meet up and it made the tour all the more special for us Europeans for Stacee to be here :)
Because of this chat I didn’t get a chance to speak to support artist She Makes War (Laura Kidd) who had invited the crowd to say hi at the merch desk. I’ve been a fan of Laura’s music for many years, and have helped to crowdfund her albums but I’d never seen her live before. It had all just added to my anticipation for this tour :) It was great to hear these songs live performed in her home city. I enjoyed the subtle differences in sound between the trio here and the four-piece band from the previous night in London.
I loved the vocal effects on Delete, the rockier full band tracks, and particularly the emotion of Dear Heart which is such a gorgeous song.
As I say, Bristol was the highlight for me. I loved it so much I had to keep going!
Back in 2014 after seeing Minor Alps in London I had an urge to do it all again and quickly made arrangements to head off to Brighton the following day. That same feeling returned as soon as this Bristol show ended. I found myself wishing friends Lieve and Carsten a good journey to the following day’s show, but quickly realised that I wanted to go too! As soon as I got back to my hotel, I had travel bookings for the next day in Nottingham :)
Again my time in Nottingham was limited so I didn’t see much (or get to go on the Robin Hood Trail!), but I did spend a nice afternoon in the sun around the city centre and Trent University area. I was also far too excited to see the trams :)
At the show Juliana acknowledged that she was playing in fellow Blake Baby Freda’s one-time home city.
The support band here and the rest of the tour was the fabulous Colour Me Wednesday. The band had also opened in Brighton where band member Harriet Doveton had declared her excitement at the week ahead revealing that Juliana was a reason why she played guitar. (Laura / She Makes War said something similar in Bristol, making the choice of artists playing on this tour so wonderful)
I got to love their songs by the end of the tour and look forward to checking out more of their work.
Look at this photo of Harriet clutching her LPs at the end of the tour. Blake Babies Vinyl!
Rescue Rooms is located near one of the city’s two universities and shares a building with the Stealth bar and nightclub. It’s a very indie studenty venue. The band seemed to really get into this performance, and despite a relatively high ceiling for the size of the room, the sound filled the place wonderfully.
Juliana asked if anyone in the crowd remembered the last time “The Three” played Nottingham in the 90s and was delighted when an audience member offered proof by wearing a 2 decades + old JH3 t-shirt!
Except of course these shows were not just “The Three.” It might have been difficult to market ticket sales as the “Juliana Hatfield Four” but that’s how I’m going to think of them :)
Joe Keefe added so much to these performances. He sure can play. it was great to hear Made In China songs Joe had worked on but his contribution and solos on all tracks was awesome.
The band as a whole sounded great. Dean’s bass lines are so good, and Todd is an exceptional drummer. These songs just sound so right when Dean and Todd play them. They look so cool too :)
With Joe to give an even fuller sound the layers on Lost Ship sounded gorgeous, and made the big rock tracks like Nirvana and I Got No Idols stunning all week.
I’m so happy I was able to fit this bonus show in to my schedule. It was a cracker.
Here’s some excellent photos courtesy of Gav Medza:
There are other photos at Fit For Moshing
The set list changed slightly during the tour but this Nottingham list is fairly representative of the week.
I returned home for a couple of days so I can’t report on Glasgow or the Manchester show (where the band played mid-afternoon as part of the Gigantic Festival). By all accounts these performances were equally excellent and looking at social media it seems the band had a great time too.
The final show of the week.
It was great for me to meet fellow fan David Young here. We’d spoken online many times and regular visitors to this site will be familiar with his awesome live photography. David had certainly put in a remarkable effort in a whirlwind trip across the Atlantic and back for the last three shows of the tour (and in Manchester managed to combine a Juliana festival appearance in the afternoon with a Sting show in the evening!)
Any sadness that the tour was ending here was outweighed by the joy that it had happened.
Similarly, the sound issues at the Institute (and I’ll be honest there were many at this show, particularly at the start for both JH3 and Colour Me Wednesday) really didn’t matter in the end.
It’s a small venue in a larger building (we were in a room on the top floor) and it was a nice intimate way to finish. It brought back memories for some in the crowd who had seen Juliana play with Evan Dando here in 2012, and Juliana remembered that that was the show where she had to collect Evan from a bar to begin their set!
The band worked their way through a now familiar set list, including a very welcome reprise of If I Could.
The set lists for these shows were inspired, offering a full range of Juliana’s post-Blake Babies career. Great picks from Hey Babe, BWYA, Only Everything, to the “middle years” with the Made In China songs, and a few from the last three albums including a banging version of Olivia’s Physical.
I’d like to say a big thank you to whoever it was that requested the final song and for Juliana for playing it from memory. She’d come back for a second encore and surprised us with a gorgeous solo electric version of Make It Home - one of my favourite ever songs. It was a beautiful, perfect way to end the week.
She headed off stage telling the crowd she’d be back in England in October.
I’d like to thank Juliana for coming out after the show to briefly chat with us. It must be odd to be asked to chat and pose for photos for folk at any time, but particularly after the energy of a performance and the week on the road, so I really appreciate it. Again it was a great way to end the week and have a chance to thank Juliana for what was an unforgettable tour, hearing some of the most influential life-affecting songs performed live with her band. Thank you so much for coming over Jules.
Every show was unique in some way and I’ll take great memories from each one.
I’m so happy it all happened. I had the best time, with the best people :) I love that we get to come together to hear Juliana share these songs and moments with us.
Kudos to those who travelled far more than me, especially those who came from other countries. I get why you do it even more now :) Thank you to everyone who I got to enjoy the week with especially Lieve, Carsten, Charlie, Gav, Phil, David, and of course Stacee. I know it meant a lot to others too. Just seeing all the happy faces in the crowds told me that.
It’s the best feeling, made extra special on this tour with the addition of Todd, Dean, and Joe on these songs.
I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming shows in the US this summer and that you all get to experience the joy I felt all week.
An unforgettable time.