Jedward have just finished their six date UK tour, with two dates in each of Manchester, London, and Glasgow, performing at legendary venues The Factory, Camden Assembly (formerly The Barfly), and Glasgow’s G2, at The Garage.
Jedward were in fine form last Friday, kicking off as they meant to go on with a mammoth 2 hour meet and greet and photo session for VIP ticket holders, before launching into nearly 3 hours of non stop music, taken from not just their by now very extensive back catalogue, which comprises not just 3 albums, but also a variety of non album singles. The twins, who recently signed a five year deal with Universal Music Asia, will be releasing their fourth album next month, and so additionally promoted this by way of “sneak peeks” at some of their new songs. On top of all that, they performed an acoustic set, with John on guitar, and a variety of covers of contemporary pop songs. The first night left everyone utterly exhausted, but nonetheless we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and were ready for more, so much so that some who had bought just the one ticket checked their schedules to see if they could make further dates.
The tour was billed as being John’s setlist the first day in each city, and Edward’s the second, comprising as many as 27 songs each night. Furthermore they mixed each show up so regardless of whether you attended every show or just one or two, you were guaranteed value for money.
Manchester over, fans wended their way south to London, where John and Edward called the Camden Assembly their base for the next two nights – having first a one day rest on the Sunday.
The Greatest Showmen
John and Edward continued, the meet and greets pulling in even more fans, while those who had gone to the show wondering why they were there, came out confirmed fans. A Jedward show is one in which it is necessary to leave your preconceptions at home. You are transported to Planet Jedward, and for the next three hours you are in their thrall. Forget PT Barnum: there are two greatest showmen, and their names are John and Edward.
Love Is The Answer
Jedward concerts have something for everyone but it’s important to realise that it’s been ten years since they first entered the public conscience, with their performance on X Factor way back in 2009. If you come expecting some sort of “wacky novelty act” you need to put that thought aside immediately. In truth Jedward have never been a novelty – the notion was the creation of lazy journalists repeating a lie first perpetuated by the show itself, which has unfortunately over the years been echoed by people who’ve never bothered to take the time to have a proper look. Watch any video of their X Factor appearances and you’ll see their commitment and passion shine through – born showmanship evident right from the very start – despite biased editing attempting to show otherwise. John and Edward turn 28 this year: they’ve long been men, not boys, and their music reflects this maturity and deals with issues most men their age have to address – with love the dominant theme.
Many of their fans have been along the Jedward journey since the start, while yet more have joined along the way. The twins’ two consecutive performances at the Eurovision Song Contest (2011 and 2012) brought them a European fan base, while their appearances on the UKs Celebrity Big Brother (2011 and 2017) introduced them to a largely older audience.
The fiercely loyal fans have variously been styled over the years as Jedheads, Jedwardians, or Jedfans, but more recently they’ve been called “Free Spirits”, coined from Jedward’s first self-penned release back in 2014, and also reflecting the punk attitude of both the duo and their followers. The age range varies greatly too, with the vast majority the same age as the twins or older. Look across any Jedward concert and you shouldn’t be surprised to see this diversity reflected in the attendance: most of their shows are 18+ but as this has been their first proper tour since 2013 they lowered it to 14+ in both Manchester and Glasgow. No matter what age or where they’ve come from however, every person in the audience is there for the same reason, and they’re a close-knit family with John and Edward at the head.
There’s a passion and love which transcends all barriers. Fans travel the world to see John and Edward, and because of their use of social media – particularly Twitter and Instagram – everyone knows each other, and welcome with open arms new fans as if they’re old friends.
The love which dominates Jedward’s songs is also evident in their relationship with their followers. The pair have been avid music fans their entire lives, and know first hand the thrill of meeting one’s musical idols. They have worked hard at establishing a close bond with their Free Spirits, both in real life meetings and on social media, and their concerts reflect this. Some of Jedward’s songs take inspiration from their followers and inspire as much in return – for example, ‘Teenage Runaway’, taken from their forthcoming album, ‘Voice Of A Rebel’, is described as being about,
“trusting your own instinct & taking your own unique path to get away from what people pressure u to be in life & not letting society wash your colour out & no matter what age u are you’ll always be a Teenage Runaway & your choices shaped who you are today x”
The Dear Green Place
Jedward wrapped up their tour with two nights at G2 at Glasgow’s Garage venue. Situated in the club district of Sauchiehall Street, The Garage is the largest nightclub in not just Glasgow, but in all of Scotland, and has hosted the likes of Prince, Marylin Manson, One Direction, Kasabian, the Kaiser Chiefs, Biffy Clyro, and Newton Faulkner in its nearly 40 year history.
Now it was the time of Jedward, and they put on the performances of their lives. This was the town where it all began; their first audition for X Factor was held in Glasgow back in 2009, and the city has therefore always had a soft spot in the hearts of the Dublin twins, who spoke at length of their affection for The Dear Green Place, its people, its architecture, its shopping, and music. There was a feeling from within the audience too that these nights would be very special. Many had attended all the concerts, and the close camaraderie was evident with some taking to the back of the room dancing the night away, while all sang along to every song, some of which we’d only learned on this tour. The first night in Glasgow saw the twins dedicate one of their new songs, ‘Extraordinary’, to Chelsey Sharp, a long term fan and Glaswegian, who tragically died back in 2014. It was a fitting tribute, and one which touched everyone, whether they had known Chelsey or not. Night two saw a more relaxed show, with mixed feelings of not wanting the night to end, while at the same time feeling grateful to soon get home to our own beds. Fans saw the duo off in their taxi, with an emotional rendering of Jedward’s song, ‘Cool Heroes’, before dispersing into the night, to party on longer, or reflect on the events of the previous week.
One More Light
It would be impossible to talk about this tour without reference to the fact that it had been one of the last things organised by John and Edward’s mother and manager, Susanna, before she died in February this year. During the tour John and Edward had paid homage to Susanna, a much loved fixture in the fandom, and whose death has deeply affected us all. They thanked fans for their love and support during this time of mourning, while John wore her diamond cross around his neck throughout, and their acoustic performance of Linkin Park’s song, ‘One More Light’ took on a whole new meaning as each night they sang it in her memory. It would have been easy for John and Ed to cancel this tour and keep their grief private – tickets didn’t go on sale until March – but in retrospect it was the best decision and gave all of us a chance to talk about our feelings, both within the fandom, and with John and Edward themselves.
Jedward will be releasing their fourth album, ‘Voice Of A Rebel’, in June, and will be touring again this October. You can keep up to date by following them on their social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, as well as their official website.