07 November, 2015

[GIG REVIEW] Jack Garratt @ Shepherd's Bush Empire, 4th November 2015

"#WTFISAJACKGARRATT"

... so says the slogan adorned onstage by the man himself at his prodigious, breathtaking sold-out Shepherd's Bush Empire show on Wednesday evening in West London.

Well here's my input..... Jack Garratt will become a superstar in 2016. Although clearly in the mind of tonight's audience, Jack Garratt is already a superstar. Jack Garratt is going to win the Sound of 2016 poll (...probably). Jack Garratt is one of the most accomplished, fascinating, yet humble live performers of our generation. Jack Garratt is going to release the best album of 2016. I could go on...

Needless to say this author is a big fan of good old Jacky boy, having first observed my ears melt upon hearing "The Love You're Given" when it was played by Zane Lowe in December last year - around the same time I had been offered the chance to go and see him live, at the Louisiana in Bristol, by my housemate who was promoting the show.

At the time he described 24 year old Jack as "a modern Jeff Buckley" and I admit that at first, that made me cringe a little. Vocally, however, and in terms of intensity of performance, I now see this as a very accurate description.

Here at Shepherd's Bush Empire, the crowd are instantly engaged by opening tracks "Water" and "Chemical" which showcases the technical ability Jack maintains throughout the set. Mixing this with moments where he communicates so openly and personally with the audience, there's never really a point where this venue feels its actual size.


A brave, emotive cover of the Disclosure & Sam Smith song "Latch" demonstrates the heart-wrenching effectiveness of Garratt's vocals, while also being so softly delivered that cries of "shhh!" could be heard all around the crowd. This level of emotion was sustained for Radio 1 favourite "Weathered", as Jack dedicated the song to a family member who had recently passed away, pointing out at the same time that his whole family were up watching the show from the balcony.

It's fair to say he knows how to bring things back up again though, as audience-screech-along "The Love You're Given" and set closer "Worry" prove. These are not only fuller, louder songs but they allow the audience a taste of Garratt's surprisingly sassy dance moves.

Jack Garratt is the very definition of a 21st century one man band. His vocals soar but draw you in. His guitar solos are infectious but have so much respect for the song. His one-armed drum work is frantic but so gracefully linear at the same time. With a headline show at Brixton Academy and a debut album both expected early next year, expect to see a lot more of Jack in 2016.

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