This past weekend's M3 Festival featured a set by Jetboy during Friday's "Kix-Off Party." Jetboy performing at M3 is nothing new, considering they have played every M3 festival to date, however the twist to this years set was Jetboy was now featuring a new singer, D.K. Revelle, as Mickey Finn left band in late 2010. Personally, I am a longtime Jetboy fan, and I think Damned Nation is one of the most solid albums to have been released during the late 80s/early 90s time frame. Last year, I was front and center for Jetboy's set, and honestly is was probably the set I was most looking forward to (even though the band was taking the stage just past noon on that day). It was brutally hot that day, but it didn't slow the band down at all and they delivered a killer set. I hadn't seen the band live since 1990, when I saw them on tour with Vixen and The Electric Boys, but they sounded as good as ever, and the classic Jetboy sound remained.
Fast forward one year to 2011, and the set that I listened to last weekend seemed like almost an entirely new band. As festival sets are shorter, Jetboy did not have a lot of time allocated to them, but they crammed in a lot of music. They opened with "Dogs Gotta Roam" off the the recent Off Your Rocker EP (which was recorded with Mickey on vocals), and also played "Going Down (Above the Clouds)" off the same album. From the classic material, they performed "Stomp It (Down to the Bricks)" and "Ready to Rumble" from Damned Nation and, of course, they closed with "Feel the Shake" from the Feel the Shake album. The also included two new songs, "Stripped Down" and "Little Miss Sin Eater." Clearly, the band is concentrating on the new music that they have written, and not relying on their past catalog, and they performed a solid set with more energy than last year's show (but that could be due to the insane heat last year that was not present this year).
The first difference I noted was how tight the band sounded now. I recall when I spoke with Billy earlier this year, he relayed to me that it was difficult to Jetboy to rehearse, as the majority of the band lived in the San Francisco area and Mickey lived in Los Angeles. Now that the new singer is closer, clearly they are able to actually practice and work out the nuances in the songs so that it all sounded like more of a unit. They showed some creativity by changing some of the classic parts around a bit and added a big ending to "Feel the Shake" which included a callback to the "Ready to Rumble" riff from earlier in the set. Additionally, there is the obvious change in voices. D.K. stays pretty close to the original versions of the Jetboy songs that pre-dated his time in the band, but does add his own swagger to the songs and plays with the vocal timing a bit... but I fully understand him adding some of his own flavor to those parts, so as to not be labeled a carbon copy of Mickey. The new songs, written with D.K., are in the same vein as prior Jetboy songs, as they are guitar-riff driven, AC/DC-type songs, and D.K. sounds great singing them. A fan of the classic line-up would not be disappointed with the new songs.
So of the two versions, which do I prefer? To be completely honest, I have been listening to Jetboy since 1990, and Mickey's voice is what I associate with those songs. So if I had the ability to choose, I would want to hear Mickey singing the classic songs. However, that is not to take anything away from D.K., as he is a great singer and performer, and the new songs suit his voice very well. I understand situations change and they require bands to adapt, and D.K. was a great choice to replace Mickey. Additionally, as stated above, the band, as whole, sound better now. The change in singers brought a new level of energy to the band that may have faded some during the end of Mickey's tenure. The creativity is flowing and they are writing new songs and moving forward. While change is not something that we fans of the 80s Glam music like, this is a situation where, for us fans, the differences are about as good as it gets, and the band has taken this shot in the arm and are reacting in a positive way. Bottom line, if Jetboy was coming to my town, I wouldn't think twice about attending.