The one-man band, Jack Garratt, well and truly topped just about anything I’ve ever witnessed. Hands down the best show I’ve seen.
Jack Garratt is actually impossible to review. My notes alone are almost 700 words, describing so many amazing moments and stories. It really doesn’t help that Kacy Hill’s opening set deserves a paragraph of its own. Kacy put on quite a performance, displaying strong musical talents and rocking the stage with her newest single, ‘Lion’. Her stagetalk stood out for me. She struggled to pronounce ‘Melbourne’ without her American accent, managing to avoid the ‘r’ on her third attempt, and shared her excitement with getting to see a koala. She’s worth checking out for music or banter alone, but the combination makes her a must.
Jack Garratt. Holy fuck. What an entrance! Through flashing lights, Jack appeared out of nowhere and started things off with ‘Coalesce’. It was quite possibly the most insane thing I’d ever seen (but my scale would well and truly shift by night’s end). The drums, after putting more than enough energy into the rest of the song, were something else. It was such a big performance and we were only one song in. Sweating already and having to catch his breath, to move straight into the hugely popular ‘Breathe Life’ would be madness. But Jack Garratt doesn’t care – he’s a freak (in the best sense of the word). The crowd, incredibly loud already, sang along to every word before Jack decided to treat the drums to another round. The incredible musician had worked out the perfect formula: show off the more classical keyboard talents, build into vocals, add an electronic touch, and finish by putting every ounce of your being into some kind of crazy drum solo. Anything’s possible with a whole lot of talent and a loop pedal. Just two songs in and it was already ranking among the very best.
It almost feels unjust to pinpoint a single best moment but there was one song that stood out above the rest. After wiping his sweaty brow with a towel, he picked up his guitar and faced the crowd. An intimate intro to ‘Weathered’ had another word-for-word sing along happening but then he suddenly stopped. “Wait. Can someone film this for my mum and dad please?” We sang along again before, for the second verse, he started feeding us lines. “We know!” was the yell from the crowd. So Jack stopped feeding the lines and we kept on singing. Just when shit couldn’t get better, it did. Another, even more epic build-up and the climax was otherworldly (if your dirty mind went straight to innuendo, you’d probably get along with Jack Garratt – more on that in a bit). That single moment was easily the highlight of my gig-going year.
“I might have just fucked up. Just before I came here, I found out those two songs I played, ‘Weathered’ and ‘Breathe Life’, you like them. And they were like my first two songs of the set. It’s just Michael McDonald covers from here.” It wasn’t just with music that he impressed the capacity crowd. Jack Garratt was full of jokes, playing snippets of two Michael McDonald songs with a simple “I’m not joking” in between. Later in the set, when a fan yelled out a questionable “Fuck me in the arse”, Jack was happy to roll with it. “This may be the jetlag talking but…” and he jumped right into Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ with some lyrical liberties. “And if you feel, like I feel, about the person who just asked me to fuck him in the arsehole… This feels wrong.”
I could probably write a paragraph for every song but I know this is already pushing the limits of the average attention span. ‘Far Cry’ highlighted his talents yet again, taking things from acoustic piano to a drop and then full blown electronic music like it’s a stock standard transition. ‘The Love You’re Given’ put the audience to the test as Jack Garratt left the microphone behind and urged us to sing those very high “ooohs”. After an initial look of displeasure when we weren’t loud enough, I think we nailed it… kinda. And in yet another mix-up, he turned his back to the audience and played a lengthy, country-style guitar solo. It was long enough to be a song in its own right but led beautifully into ‘Surprise Yourself’: a rollercoaster ride from high energy to tear-jerkingly intimate, and all the way back up.
“You guys mind if I do a cover? I promise it’s not another Michael McDonald song.” Every good set has an unforgettable cover, and Jack Garratt played… ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’. I feel like we doubled up an epic musical performance with a comedy show. Jack has incredible comedic timing. The real cover was as amazing as you could hope for, a mash-up of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Señorita’ and Craig David’s ‘7 Days’. He managed to make it his own and included a, now the norm, high energy breakdown at the end.
To loud screams, a common occurrence when you’ve captivated the crowd as much as he had, Jack Garratt played the popular ‘Fire’. The way he builds layers with that loop pedal is just incredible, almost remixing his own songs on the fly. This time, he used a fast and loud clap from the audience as yet another layer in a brilliant display of showmanship. Even after over an hour of entertainment, the announcement of one last song was greeted with much dismay. He played ‘Worry’ to one last sing along and ended with an absolutely insane guitar solo. Thank you, Jack Garratt.
Hometown: Buckinghamshire, England
Latest Album: Phase, released 19 February 2016
Sounds like: Ásgeir crossed with Vera Blue on steroids
Say what? “So how was the Jack Garratt show? It was fine, he just sang a song about man rape at the end.” “It’s 2016. Have they invented any technology to roll back time yet? Oh…” “Fuck I’m tired.”