Sunday, November 27, 2016
Live Review :: Jack Garratt :: Eventim Apollo, London - Nov 24 2016
Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London
November 24 2016
Words/Photos: John Sills
The Grade II* Art Deco building known (for now at least; its 84-year history has seen at least six name changes) as Eventim Apollo is a grand venue, make no mistake. It also holds around 3,500 seated and 5,000 standing, and the very fact that Jack Garratt has added a second night here after selling out the first, shows just how far the 25-year-old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Little Chalfont has come since releasing his first EP 'Remnants' in 2014.
And once he steps onto the stage it becomes clear why he can sell out venues this size. Keeping it simple without a host of band members in stage - there's just him - he is far outnumbered by his array of instruments. Starting on the powerful 'Coalesce (Synesthesia, Pt. II)' with its big chorus, he shows his multi-skill talents in playing drums and keyboards at same time as keeping his vocals to the mic.
Maybe a bit pre-programmed, but apart from two occasional backing singers this was a one-man show. The lighting was dramatic too. Seeing him for the first time at Latitude festival two years ago, Jack was excellent, but he was still the techno-geek. That was part of the attraction. But now he is a real showman, engaging the crowd, making sure those choruses hit the spot for today's youngsters, and adding touches of humour to his falsetto vocal. When he plays an interlude on keyboards and guitar of covers intros - 'Can't Stop'/'Smells Like Teen Spirit'/'Jump Around'/'Eye Of The Tiger'/'Bootylicious' - he lets you know he's an entertainer as much as a singer.
Releasing his debut studio album 'Phase' in February, the set naturally includes a large section from it including 'Breathe Life', all slinky R&B with a frisson of funk, 'Far Cry', the guitar-led early single 'Weathered', 'Fire' and the woozy synth delight 'Surprise Yourself' - all of which confirm him to be a quite rightly worthy winner of the Critics' Choice category at the Brit Awards this year, and headed up the BBC Sound Poll of 2016.
The encore had a lovely contrast. First 'My House Is Your Home' which, on record (another from 'Phase'), is quite a jazzy piece. He introduces it with a paean to his fiancé, who is an American Muslim, and while he doesn't name Donald Trump per se, the crowd get the gist of who he has in mind as he sings: "I'll be no harm to you / And make your pride hurt / Hurt no more / When the demon shows his face to you."
Final closer 'Worry' - what else? - feels like James Blake meets Disclosure, with a touch of Of Monsters and Men when he goes for the big chorus. It's anthemic and the perfect ending. A great concert - one which touches a lot of bases. Great music and musicianship, but also an ear for what goes down well today. Jack Garratt has got it nailed on.