Jonathan Jeremiah

Jonathan Jeremiah

Support: Néomí

Jonathan Jeremiah


Jonathan Jeremiah

Jonathan Jeremiah – who’s lived all his life in London – still clearly remembers his childhood summer holidays in Ireland. His mother grew up in Tipperary, with fifteen brothers and sisters, and he and his own…





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  • Jonathan Jeremiah

    Jonathan Jeremiah – who’s lived all his life in London – still clearly remembers his childhood summer holidays in Ireland. His mother grew up in Tipperary, with fifteen brothers and sisters, and he and his own five siblings would visit her family, who “used to line us up like the Family von Trapp, and we’d all have to sing together”. Not so long ago, he returned to the country for a funeral, and after the ceremony, as is traditional, everyone retired to the local pub, where the wake inevitably continued. “We stayed till about 4 in the morning,” Jeremiah recalls, “and, one after the other, we all sang a song. No one skipped: you’re singing, she’s singing, he’s singing. I grew up around that kind of thing, where everybody sings together, and that’s what I’m trying to capture with my records: the sound of people together.”

    It’s this organic, analogue sound that Jeremiah has pursued since his debut album, 2011’s A Solitary Man, described by the BBC as “elegant and soulful, a luscious artefact of 1970s songwriting class.” His latest collection, however, eclipses everything he’s achieved so far. Good Day showcases the remarkable depth of his craft, his wonderfully weary, warm voice carving out haunting melodies amid uncommonly sophisticated arrangements from The Heritage Orchestra’s Ben Trigg. It was recorded at Ray Davies’ Konk Studios, which Jeremiah describes as “a beautiful environment in which to get six or seven people together”, but he didn’t stop there, in fact cramming a 19-piece string and horn section into the room. The results? From the upbeat groove of opener ‘Good Day’ to ‘Long Night’, a mournful ode to endurance, via the widescreen drama of ‘Deadweight’, inspired, he lets slip, by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood’s ‘Some Velvet Morning’, to the closing affirmation of the beautiful, finger-picked ‘Yes In A Heartbeat’, it’s an immediate yet timeless classic.

    Jeremiah’s aesthetic is one that makes no secret of its nostalgic influences, many of which date back to the early 1970s. He’s not exactly sure what draws him to the era – “Maybe my dad played a record from 1972 and that’s the first time I ever fell in love, or I saw a photo of my parents, perhaps on holiday, and he played me something from that time” – but his work has always revealed an affection for, among others, Richie Havens, John Martyn, Bill Withers, Carole King and James Taylor. (“When I discovered him,” confesses the quietly spoken, colossally voiced singer – who, like Lee Hazlewood, had to overcome a speech impediment as a youngster – “I realised, ‘I can sing a song, and sing it the way that I sound!’”) Jeremiah also talks admiringly of Lou Adler, Carole King’s producer, as well as of Charles Stepney’s work for Chess and Cadet Records – especially with Minnie Riperton and Marlena Shaw – but it’s Scott Walker and Serge Gainsbourg who he insists had the greatest impact upon him.

    “The way I’ve arranged this record with two basses – a double bass and picked bass – is a very Serge sound,” he admits. “I never felt like I wanted to do an American soul thing. I was always drawn towards a European sound. I enjoy the fact I’m from London, and not pretending I’m from Georgia!” All the same, his music has sometimes integrated elements of ‘American soul’, if not always for obvious reasons. He’d never knowingly heard Terry Callier, for instance, when people began comparing him to the folk-soul pioneer, and his initial motivation for digging into Curtis Mayfield’s work was in fact Paul Weller’s The Style Council and Dr Robert’s The Blow Monkeys, to whom he credits his nascent love of what he now calls ‘London soul’.

    Be that as it may, Good Day is far from a counterfeit time capsule, nor the outcome of a Luddite mindset. It’s instead about Jeremiah identifying the appropriate manner in which to present his songs, and if there’s anything he’s learned over the years, it’s that “Timing is a feeling, and music is a feeling. When you get people playing together, it’s about that feeling. I can’t see a link between computers and a feeling. Computers don’t breathe; they calculate. And if you take that screen away, you’d be amazed at how many things sound as human as this record.”

    Jeremiah was a late starter when it came to making his own music, despite his early fascination for the songs he heard growing up. He only took up guitar lessons at school because he was forced to choose between French and music, and the idea of following the same path as his sisters held less appeal than an instrument. “But I was never that good at the discipline stuff,” he says. “I only played it occasionally. It wasn’t until about 16 that I really learned how to play a chord. As for writing a song, it took forever. I didn’t know what people should write about. It wasn’t until my first heartbreak, and then I went, ‘Ahhh…’”

    Jeremiah’s first, acclaimed album was released by Island Records, and took him many years of soul-searching and dedication. Much of it was written in his early 20s, while he spent time travelling across the US, finessing the growing cache of songs that were emerging from his heartache. Returning to London, he got a job at Wembley Arena as a security guard, and spent every penny he could on the subsequent, painstakingly self-produced recordings. In addition, he hired Jules Buckley, founder of the Heritage Orchestra, to arrange his songs – they’re now regular collaborators – and brought in the finest musicians he could find, including The Roots’ Questlove, who drummed on his first EP, and James Brown’s backing band, whom he met at London’s Jazz Café.  Additionally, one song, ‘Heart Of Stone’, was co-written by Bernard Butler.

    Two further albums followed, 2012’s Gold Dust and 2015’s Oh Desire, both of which consolidated his audience, especially in mainland Europe, and earned him further accolades, not least a phone call from legendary James Bond composer John Barry, who offered to write with him. (“Afterwards, I played the ideas to my record company,” Jeremiah sighs, “and they said, ‘Well, I think we know who this guy is, but we want you to work with Chipmunk’.”) Nonetheless, it’s this fourth album, Good Day – his debut for PIAS Recordings – which represents Jeremiah at his finest. “Some things just take a little longer to find their way,” he laughs, shrugging. “It’s taken me a while to find who I am, and what I want to sing about.”

    Surprisingly, the greatest influence on the album’s themes came from someone few would deem anything but unlikely. “I was listening one night to Brian Eno talking about surrender,” Jeremiah explains. “Everything in our society now is about having control, and buying new things to give us more control: a phone that keeps us in contact, a house that keeps us secure. But maybe an equally blissful place is when you surrender: ‘I don’t mind what happens next: it’s just what’s going to happen.’ That’s why we love our alcohol, our drugs, our art, because we’re actually losing control. And maybe that’s what roots and gospel stuff is about: ‘I’ve lost control, but it’ll be alright’. So I think of surrender as being quite sweet.”

    This, presumably, is what provides Good Day with its defining, relaxed quality. Nothing about it is hurried, and everything about it feels real, from its emotions to its intimate sound. Listen to ‘Hurt No More’, a gospel flavoured gem written from an atheist’s perspective. Try ‘The Stars Are Out’ and ‘Deadweight’, which sound like dusty relics of a forgotten age. Check out ‘Foot Track Magic’ or ‘U-Bahn (It’s Not Too Late For Us)’, which boasts the same serene calm as a Glen Campbell recording of a Jimmy Webb classic, lyrically encapsulating the freedom that comes with succumbing to fate. “I sometimes ride the U-Bahn at night,” Jeremiah sings, “just to lose myself”, before his journey concludes in a decisive, auspicious manner: “I just want you”.

    This latter song ends with a recording of ten of Jeremiah’s closest friends singing around a London dinner table on New Year’s Eve, 2017, “doing our ‘Hey Jude’ thing”. It represents, in a nutshell, the essence of Good Day: the sound of people together, surrendering to what will be, celebrating life as it is. Few things beat being with people we love, and no one captures that better than Jonathan Jeremiah

    /// Präsentiert von Bayern 2

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  • Néomí

    néomí is the moniker for folk-pop singer-songwriter Neomi Speelman who writes authentic and sincere stories backed by dreamy soundscapes inspired by the classic folk songwriters, old and new alike.
    2020 was set to be the breakout year for néomí as she recorded her first singles with British engineer/producer Edd Hartwell (Tom Walker, Birdy, Tom Odell), supported singer songwriting legend Don McLean and was also invited to the UK to play her first shows abroad. However, the outbreak of a pandemic followed by a sequence of metamorphic life events scuppered these plans with néomí using the time to develop as a songwriter and add to her growing catalogue of songs.
    néomí released her debut 5 song EP ‘before’ on June 24th via [PIAS] which has been supported by the likes of CLASH, The Independent, GIGWISE, Under The Radar, La Blogotheque, Cool Hunting, Ones To Watch, LOCK Mag, Record Of The Day (Song of the Day for each track) and many more. She opened for Novo Amor, HAEVN, The Slow Show and Celine Cairo on their 2022 shows in The Netherlands and was named both OOR and 3voor12 Talent for the upcoming Popronde tour. The first single from her follow up EP is set for release in October 2022 with the EP following in Q2 2023.

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