Jack Garratt recently played two nights at Hammersmith Apollo. I saw the second show. He was at Latitude in 2014 in the i-Arena tent in the Woods. It was clear something was going on. It was packed and the reception was incredibly positive. There was an obvious James Blake link as he does a similar thing with the bass and the electronics, taking a sound in a direction that challenges the tune, but makes it a lot more interesting. And it’s particularly powerful live.
He’s recently released an album recently called “Phase”. Part of it brings together some of his earlier EPs, and, not surprisingly, features what might be his biggest song so far, “Worry”. It feels like James Blake meets Disclosure, with a touch of Of Monsters and Men when he goes for the big chorus. No wonder he’s selling out Hammersmith Apollo.
On the night he started with “Coalesce” – a powerful piece with a big chorus. He was playing drums and keyboards at same time – impressive. Maybe a bit pre-programmed, but apart from two occasional backing singers this was a one man show. The lighting was dramatic too.
At Latitude, 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 they sure did!
He is a multi-instrumentalist as well as a good singer – his falsetto sounds a bit like Prince – and let us know how good he was when he played an interlude on keyboards and guitar of intros from great pop songs. Including Nirvana, Bon Jovi and Beyoncé!
The encore had a lovely contrast. First “My House is your Home”, which, on record, is quite a jazzy piece. He introduced it with a paean to his fiancé who is an American Muslim. He didn’t name Trump, but the crowd got the gist.
And then “Worry” – what else? 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.
(A version of this review originally appeared on Little Indie blogs).