Bristol metallers Jaguar were one of the forgotten sons of the beloved NWOBHM era. Whilst Maiden, Leppard and Saxon went on to greatness Jaguar, along with many others, were left behind confined to history after recording some classic sounds before making a left turn before they got into full gear.
Formed in 1979 Jaguar first released the single 'Back Street Woman' on the Heavy Metal Records label in 81 before getting the thumbs up and moving over to Neat Records to release the full throttle 'Axe Crazy' single in 82 (so called because the guitar was called the 'Axe' to us Metalheads back then) and the classic and ahead of it's time 'Power Games' album a year later.
'Power Games' was met with rave reviews upon release where Jaguar upped the ante of the NWOBHM sound playing faster whilst keeping melodic roots gaining a good following in Western Europe and the album spearheaded the whole speed Metal movement which was soon overshadowed by the oncoming thrash movement. Even Lars Ulrich was a fan of the band and has even admitted that 'Whiplash' was inspired by the Jaguar track 'Stormchild.'
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Jaguar surprised many by changing their musical direction with their second album in 84, 'This Time', and split not long afterwards although fans have since become to like the more commercial route Jaguar took. Only guitarist Garry Peppard remains from the original line up who reformed the band in 1999 with Jamie Manton on vocals and recorded the 'Run Ragged' in '93 seeing the band play at major festivals such as the Wacken Festival.
Tonight was a special occasion as Jaguar performed the 'Power Games' album in it's entirety, along with the singles and demos from that time. Full credit must go to the promoter this evening who had the brainwave of laying on a free gig on what is normally the quietest Saturday night out of the year lying in between Christmas and the New Year ensuring that the Old Blue Last pub was ram packed with a dedicated audience whom the majority of which weren't even born when 'Power Games' was originally released almost three decades before.
This was a pulsating and piledriving set and complete heads down action from the band. Peppard was firing out the riffs from all angles, bassist Simon Patel was vibrating the floorboards with his heavy Rickenbacker and vocalist Jamie Manton is a charismatic figure who has the look of Mr Punch on acid who uniquely not only has a mic stand that doubles up as a pogo stick, but also has a bog roll on a holder handy to blow his hooter when required, not that many fans were grabbing any souvenirs thrown onto the stage floor.
The drinks were flowing on a large scale and I was speeding like a maniac and banging my head that doesn't bang just everybody else down the front. Even the change of a drum kit didn't hamper the evening, in fact it gave everyone a chance to get more beer.
Manton was held aloft by the crowd in a night when Jaguar played a blinder. A night of real Heavy Metal, raw and powerful and unashamedly bloody good fun full of 'Bukka, Bukka, Bukka'.
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