When a performer walks onto a stage to perform, you can tell a lot right away, and the effect can be immediate. Jake Clemons is one such artist. He brought a commanding, powerful and confident presence to the forefront at a recent show at Hotel Cafe on December 5, promoting his critically acclaimed, latest EP, “Love and Fear,” and demonstrating that he really owned it.
In fact, the small stage could barely contain the singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Virginia Beach — not only physically, with his entire accomplished, versatile backing band’s great size — but also the scope of his talent was bursting at the seams, dying to cut loose from those narrow confines. The nephew of the late, great saxophonist, Clarence Clemons, Jake Clemons has already been playing stadiums with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band and has clearly learned a lot from his mentors, demonstrating that he really knows how to present a show. Clemons takes their collective approach and builds on it, and adding his distinctive personality, he communicates with the audience in an interesting and captivating way. Through storytelling and poetry of sorts, he imparts his own set of definitive opinions, beliefs and experiences to create a unique songwriting palette from what he draws upon — including the universal thematic subject chronicling the highs and lows of life.
His approach is bold and ambitious. Clemons takes risks and he should be lauded for taking that route rather than playing it safe. Though, not all the experiments on stage were a resounding success. Sometimes, the way in which he presented the material was a bit off, ill-timed and came off clunky, but at least it was not a “by the numbers” performance. Some of the songs did blend into one another a bit too much as well. Still, there was a lot of feeling, emotion, passion and affecting spontaneous moments emitting from the stage which translated deeply into one’s psyche, strongly resonating, and Clemons managed to touch the audience in a meaningful way.