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Re-Blog – Ben Denison’s Blog about Jason’s Last gig

by on November 19, 2009

I’ve been meaning to re-blog this for a while – Ben Denison’s blog about Jason’s last gig at The Well at the end of October. It was a fantastic night and the end of a huge chapter in the band’s life and his words really sum it all up. Thanks Ben…

Thank you for the music – and so much more.

This morning my outlook calandar reminder dinged open. “Jasons Last Stand”, “14 hours over due”. I sat and starred at it. Why had I added this as an event at all? As if I didn’t trust myself. As if somehow I expected my brain would deny it was happening. But it did. Last night was Jason Miller’s last stand.

Jason played bass in a band called Hope and Social. Previously called Four Day Hombre. They played together for 13 years but last night was Jason’s last gig in a blue blazer. He was leaving the band on good terms and with good reasons, but unusually at a time when the band had struck gold with both their songs and their onstage confidence. Under these circumstances it left the crowd last night with a lot to talk about.

What does it take to be in a band for 13 years?
What does it feel like to leave a band after 13 years?
What does it feel like to have a band member leave after 13 years?

Last night Hope and Social answered these questions, and told the story of their parting the way that they know best; with their performance.

As they took to the stage for final setup it was noticeable that there was very little eye contact between them.

Simon broke the tension, “Play those drums Gary”.

The band pushed and pulled like I have never seen a band push and pull before. Each of them giving their all. Instruments, pedals and amplifiers driven to (and past) their limits. Lyrics, notes, and melodies intensified and exalted to the point of destruction. Gary Stuart on drums, bouncing high off his stool to accent bass and snare punches. Rich Huxley wrestling his guitar screaming in and out of the feedback window as if part of an exorcism. Ed Waring brutalising his keyboard demanding ever more of it sonic capabilities. Simon Wainright delivering a vocal performance nothing short of devastating in both power and tenderness, and urging the band to give ever more… and Jason Miller, well, Jason was swept away with his band. The songs they had written together over the years carry such a depth of quality that they shone even brighter under this ferocious onslaught from the band.

It was a mortal cry of a band about to separate. A halleluiah. An atom being split.

Of course the crowd played their part in every way. The room was charged.

A Kazzo and Jason mask for everyone adding to the involvement. We sang, danced, screamed, kazooed our hearts out and ultimately we shed the odd tear. But the night wasn’t about us. It was about those boys. The boys who started a band 13 years ago and grew together, stayed together. It was about what they have achieved and what they stand for.

Jason Miller mask and Hope and Social Kazoo.

Jason recounted his top 5 highlights of his time in the band; Playing Glastonbury, foot on monitor at the Hammersmith Apollo, touring LA, touring New York and any gig at the Blues Bar in Harrogate. He decided against listing his top 5 lowlights, but I expect they would have been equally as extreme, instead Jason concluded “At one point things sort of changed for us, for a long time we were trying to chase something, to make it, whatever that means, but after we stopped trying to do that, well since then, it has been a lot of fun.”.

Two valuable lessons any band can take from all this are:

  1. Play every gig as if its your last
  2. Only do it for the fun

There was not a dry eye in the house by the end of the show. Jason was the last man on stage. He put down his bass, and pushed the pedal to shut of the distortion for one last time.

After a recent gig at The Crypt, I emailed Jason to congratulate him on a successful night. He said, “I walked of stage to a room full of beaming faces, and ultimately that’s what its all about”.

I would like to say to Jason Miller, and everyone else who dedicates their life to their art, thank you for the music, and so much more.

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