Live Review: Jack Garratt – London

Jack Garratt

jack garrattThe Village Underground, London, 26th May 2015

Words: Lauren Grigor

After seeing The one man band that is Jack Garratt, it’s hard to guess where he might want to go from here. Garratt has spent the last 12 months growing a solid fan base and clocking over 2 million streams on some of his songs. His show sold out extremely quickly and is looking to be the last tour where he’ll play for less than £20 a head.
Garratt comes across as someone who, as a kid, would spend his days learning classical piano and having formal singing lessons. His vocal range and control are astounding and left the audience captivated in moments when it was just him and his guitar. The lyrics to his song Old were touching a poetic. However, judging from everything else he achieves in his relatively short time slot, it’s clear that this is someone who got a taste for bass during adolescence and hasn’t stopped growing his production skills.

The bass was quite frankly, too much at points. the hairs on my arm and piercings in my nose were vibrating. I love bass. I love that music can reach me right into my internal organs – however when those organs are feeling close to rupturing then I’m kind of happy for it to stop.

Garratt’s style of live performance may be coming to a tipping point. He is relentlessly ambitious with his determination to play every instrument and control every sound himself and at times everything sounded utterly perfect – yet there were timing issues in places that I’m sure that I was not alone in hearing – this is not a criticism – he is undoubtedly one of the best live performers and will help to revolutionise a genre. The fact that he starts a piano loop, plays over it with guitar, adds live drums and pitch-perfect singing leaves me completely enthralled.

In the studio he is boundless and could continue to produce some of the best songs of the decade, but if he insists on playing solo on stage, he will need to set himself limits – the man only has 2 arms and I’m worried that if the doesn’t strip songs down for the live shows, his performance will suffer.

I was also intrigued by his choice of set list. He would ricochet between face-melting bass (which made me happy to have my ear-plugs) in Chemical, Worry and Water moving amongst his instruments like some mad bearded octopus, and then back into a few slow sentimental songs where his falsetto could have made opera singers envious. I liked that he addressed this and had a laugh with the crowd about the contrast but the lack of consistency meant that audience members became restless during the slow quiet songs but struggled to establish any sort of groove during his more popular electronic dance numbers.

This review feels like quite the critique but I can assure you I am a fan of Jack Garratt, I spent the better part of November and December last year playing The Love You’re Given to anyone who would listen. He is defining a genre and a new generation of electronic fans, paving the way for musicians to be (beyond) multi-talented in their art.

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