Gig Review by Zak Edwards with Photography by Bianca Barrett

Jack Garratt

Not untypically, it was a dreary November evening in Brummieland as we ventured out to see Jack Garratt, with rain spitting down like flem dribbling from a Giant with a lisp. What wasn’t at all typical was the sweltering 13 degrees that accompanied the rain. Anything to do with the ‘Super Moon’ per chance?

Jack Garratt

[Stat alert – 2016 has proven to be the warmest year since records began]. Luke warm you may say.

[Inconsequential space filler alert – Where does the saying ‘luke warm’ come from? And why does warm have its own precursor that can’t be used in front of any other words? So many questions, but this really isn’t the forum… ]

Jack Garratt

On to Mr Garratt.

If you know nothing of the bearded multi-instrumentalist, think one man band. On steroids. Oh and he’s recently won the BBC Critics Choice Award and the BBC Sound of 2016 Polls – hence the chatter of anticipation amongst the eclectic crowd that had packed into O2 Arena. People were excited.

Jack Garratt

Armed with what seemed like a rather advanced nuclear bunker which had enough knobs and lights on to power a small totalitarian state but in reality was a drum kit, a keyboard and a sampler his entrance onto the stage was theatrical by nature. Think a regal visitor greeting their adoring fans and you’re pretty much there. I guess he needed to be due to his lack of musical cohorts. Matter not, it instantly struck a chord with the punters.

Jack Garratt

Part way through the set I was worried that the ‘verse, chorus, verse, chorus, crazy drum solo, end’ formula was going to reek of one trick pony-ism for the former Junior Eurovision Song Contest entrant [Stat Alert – It was 2005 and he came last]. Then, out of nowhere he plucked out a strat and delivered a glorious melancholic version of ‘Weathered’.

Jack Garratt

Musical purists will argue that he’s a man utilising nothing more than technology with his loops, samplers and drum machines. You can almost hear them muse “it isn’t actually a live act”, whilst fans with a more modern outlook will claim the man is revolutionary in his musical delivery in ways that even Ed Sheeran does not attain. Regardless which side of the fence you sit, the act was certainly unique, both in delivery and genre spanning euro-techno pop with alternative electronica in the same song.

Jack Garratt

Would he be demanding the same fervour when producing the same songs as part of a band? Probably not, but hey people are always looking for something different and he’s certainly that!

With a euphoric mix of the electronica of house music and the blues like softness to his echoic vocals ‘The Love You’re Given’ was a hit with the audience, and your body can’t seem to resist the contagious movements the beat pulsates throughout you.

‘Surprise Yourself’ reminds me of the folk vocals of James Vincent McMorrorow, the kind of sound you can loose yourself in. The blended production of eerie and tempoed backings with the looseness and serenity in his voice cleverly creates a sound not typical of your average soloist.

Jack Garratt

Chatty banter was something that Mr Garratt had in abundance. None more so was this evident than when he was toying around with the crowd whilst deciding which cover version to do. A plethora of 80’s and 90’s hits got an airing in sample format – from Survivors’ ‘Eye of the Tiger’ through to M.J.’s ‘Beat It’ culminating in Will Smiths’ ‘Prince of Bel Air’. Splendid!

Jack Garratt

Then it was back to business amidst a political diatribe about his American fiancé, as well as conducting own choir (the willing audience) for backing vocals, before refusing to partake in the “pretence” of the encore.

Jack Garratt

Launching his debut album ‘Phase’, in February this year, his extensive assortment of tracks covers everything from heavy hard-hitting and peculiar tracks, to the more emotive and folkier enriched tracks. He certainly pitches to a wide audience.
The young singer song-writer and producer made radio making fame with hit ‘Worry’, which ended the night. The fractured and instrumental backing reflective of Alwonations ‘Sail’, Garratt’s chillingly pitched vocals cut through the rhythm.

Jack Garratt

Then that was that. Lights up and the crowd were off to face the light drizzle and discuss the one (man) up-manship that they’d just witnessed.

Jack Garratt

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