For a young man with such popular potential, Devon’s Cosmo Jarvis is still waiting in the wings for his cue. Already on his third album, 2012’s ‘Think Bigger’, and second record deal (following a dalliance with Mark Jones’ reliable Wall Of Sound), Jarvis’ songwriting and film-making skills have at least snared him a devoted young audience, out in force down the front tonight. Brian Eno and Stephen Fry have sung his praises while his feature debut The Naughty Room bagged a BBC4 broadcast, breaking beyond the limits of its £8k budget. Still he waits.
Tonight’s gig shows Jarvis connects where it counts. The sweetest sight of the evening is the two groups of fans hanging onto his words below the stage: a straight line of polite, shy teenage women and a boisterous, sing-a-long circle of young lads. You can see each casting glances across at the other, hoping for a sign to make the move to dance together. It never quite happens, and that’s a shame because one thing they do have in common is they know every word to every Cosmo Jarvis song. Even the rude ones – of which he’s got many.
Jarvis and his band open with a cheerful strum through a trio of snappy singles (‘Sure As Hell Not Jesus’, ‘Love This’ and ‘She Doesn’t Mind’). Ditching his hoodie, he reveals denim dungarees and some seriously muddy boots: he’s either a country boy cliché or he’s been up on the downs all day.
A hoedown cover of The Grateful Dead’s ‘Friend Of The Devil’ reveal the band’s roots, Jarvis’ throat straining ‘til the veins pop, while storming originals ‘Good Citizen’ and ‘In My Day’ prove they can kick up a cowpunk storm. The mandolin-toting jam through proud anthem ‘Gay Pirates’ (Jarvis’ nearest song to a hit) and extended genre-hopping finale ‘Betty’ cap an impressive and entertaining night.
Jarvis comes across as a smart, socially conscious artist, still honing his songcraft while dallying in different styles, discarding a few as he finds his niche. It sounds like we’re damning him with faint praise if we place him between Plan B and Mumford & Sons, but he’s got the brains of the former, the radio-friendly authenticity (debate as you see fit) of the latter, and the crossover potential of both. If not, the festival circuit will embrace him from here ‘til doomsday.
Green Door Store, Thursday 21st February 2013
Words by Stuart Huggett