In September 2005 I saw Johnny Panic for the only time opening the bill of the Wildheart's 'final' gig at Scarborough Castle. As the opening act they did a good job of getting the crowd going in cold & blustery conditions. Thirteen months on & I am at The Portland Arms in Cambridge to see how the band have progressed especially considering April brought a line up change, with bass player Nash deciding to concentrate on doing the band's art work, his replacement being Shaun, who previously was the lead guitarist in Route 215.
With the debut of the band's new backdrop the set was started with Minority of One, followed by Winona a song about a certain actress. Johhny Panic are a band that obviously have many influences, there's a little bit of Green Day in there Green Day but mainly the band look back to the punk/new wave era of the 70's & early 80's for inspiration. The Jam are most definitely a major influence, 'Warn You' which was was followed by new track 'Third Degree' really proves the point about these influences. In fact if 'Third Degree' turned up on a late 70's punk/new wave compilation you could easily believe that that was when it was originally recorded - not a bad thing.
The single Automatic Healer was followed by another new track 'I Live For' and, as with the vast majority of songs served up there is a definite hook to it. Indeed most of Johnny Panic's material brings the urge to punch the air along with them. That's not to say the band don't have a mellower side, exemplified by 'Coming up Roses' although they quickly reverted to type with another new track, 'The Rebel' returning to the very early Jam sound once more.
The finale of the set was the bands recent single, and N-Power TV add theme 'Happy Together', originally recorded by The Turtles, but the Johnny Panic version would be a perfectly acceptable song to pogo along with... In conclusion Johnny Panic have just about everything a band needs, good song's, good delivery & stage presence but as with countless other acts out there they ultimately need luck if we are to see them grow beyond the club scene they currently occupy.
This review originally written for http://www.hardrockhouse.com
See more pix from this gig here