Jamnesty: Reviewed

Jamnesty, put simply, was a jam, for Amnesty. In the style of the famous Secret Policeman’s Ball, the St Andrews branch of Amnesty International organised an evening of information and music, raising funds for the political and human rights charity.

At first glance, the event looked like a children’s birthday party. And in some respects it functioned like a children’s birthday party; balloon games, music, an entertainer in the form of Leon O’Rourke, and by the end of the evening there were enough people sat on the floor to make it resemble a game of musical bumps. It was also, perhaps, the best event I have been to this On The Rocks. Though Venue 2 is a little drab, they had made use of the logistically tricky dimensions with displays of information about their Stop Violence Against Women campaign, along with others and a sale of Women For Women merchandise. Impressively, the venue didn’t hold them back. Though each musical set was different in tone, the audience spread out, lounged on the sofas, and got up dancing to suit the tone of each, somehow making Venue 2 seem always the perfect size. I suppose it comes with the nature of charity events (though maybe fashion shows and Balls contradict this theory), but those who turned up to support the charity and the bands created such a friendly, chilled atmosphere. It would’ve been difficult to have a bad time and hopefully the point got across, everyone at least left the event covered in plasters and more aware of Amnesty’s presence in St Andrews.

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The evening kicked off with the Hummingbirds a cappella renditions of classics, followed by Josh Fuchs. Little known on the St Andrews scene, Josh Fuchs held his own with just his guitar, singing beautiful acoustic tunes. An audience member, who would like to remain anonymous, described him as ‘having the voice, and face, of an angel’… Moving on, the evening really got going with the arrival of Mad Jack. No, not an endearing name for a wild partying friend, but the St Andrews band that On The Rocks last presented at their launch before the break. You might have seen them singing in the rain in church square, or belting out tunes outside FatFace. Gabriela Machado, Michael Clark, Patrick-James Soulsby, Mairi Warren, Fraser Dunlop and Finlay Duncan got the crowds breaking out their moves to numbers such as Twist and Shout, and some Jackson 5, along with a couple of their own. Finally Ticho ended the night’s live music with some covers and some fantastic originals. Remarkably, throughout the event there was a fairly steady trickle of new arrivals, thus the Ticho set helped revive the tiring audience after a lengthy set up. James Kenneally, Dedan Ghee, Chris Wollner and Youkang Jun even inspired Batman and Robin to take to the dance-floor; truly a sight to be seen.

The real shame of the evening was the awkward transition from a very chilled live music event to a DJ set; not that the set was bad, just an ill-judged choice for the event and venue. The set up itself took long enough to drive much of the audience home, and those of us left barely had the energy to dance the way Get Free demands. An event til 2am in the middle of On The Rocks week is perhaps a little ambitious for Amnesty, at least for the St Andrews crowd.

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From members of the audience, and my own experience I can tell you the event was a huge success, and am pleased to report that committee members thought so too and plan to make the event bigger and better next year. That being said, I’m not sure how they’ll top some of the surprises we were treated to, notably Leon’s beat-boxing, and Youkang Jun’s spoken word poetry. That said, I look forward to seeing them try.

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