Settling into the Hollywood Theatre was a little more difficult than usual. The standing room only crowd was poised and ready to go for BC’s island boy Jesse Roper. He’s not accustomed to this sort of reception anywhere else but Vancouver Island. “Hollywood Theatre sounds fancy! Don’t play a single wrong note here. Almost gave me diarrhea thinking about it,” Jesse told the crowd what his feelings were as he crossed the Strait of Georgia to arrive on the mainland. His mix of humour, banter, but most importantly his musicianship, however, would put all digestive concerns to rest.
If you have never had a chance to witness Jesse Roper live, his on stage presence is just as palpable as his giddy up, blues influenced, rock and roll. He has a voice that emotes in all the right ways, across a vast range. He can belt with the best, and he can bring a smooth yet seasoned low end that always finds the right spot. When you watch him you cannot help feel what he feels. This is mostly thanks to his infectious, ear-to-ear smile, that with any other performer, would feel like an act, but with Jesse it just feels like an honest expression of himself. There is no one having more fun in a room then Jesse Roper. It makes sense, then, that the crowd would join in throughout the night, right from the top of the first song Hold On Me right to the end. This kind of passion cannot be contained, and his fans were there for it throughout the evening.
I have only ever had the chance to see Roper’s solo performance, so this particular Saturday night was a treat to have his full band. They jammed, they bantered, they performed necessary guitar maintenance when Jesse rocked too hard and busted his strings. Each separate player maintained the energy of their frontman, and communicated with each other through rhythm and leads that were on par with the same high standard set by Jesse’s impeccable fret work.
At the end of the night, if Roper had not put a smile on your face, you were clearly not listening. His joy and enthusiasm reverberate even more than his amp ever could, and that is why we all come to see live shows, to bask in the heartfelt love of music.