Jack Garratt at the Brixton AcademyCultureMusicLive music
At only 24 years old and with ever-mounting awards, the lone figure of Jack Garratt strolled onto the Brixton Academy stage, looking in equal parts overwhelmed and like a kid in a sweet shop. Or in his case, a musical instrument shop.
A multi-instrumentalist, Garratt stood at the helm of a triangle made up of drums, a keyboard, and an electric guitar. He teased in and out of electro-balladry and huge drops, smashing the drums like an angry bear. The bone-crunching drum machine on Chemical got gears shifting early on, but it was the jungle rhythms of Breathe Life that loosened the remaining rigid shoulders. The spasmodic finale of stuttering keys and soupy bass-lines then gave way to the more saccharine delicacy of Weathered. At this point, Garratt left the bow of his instrumental ship to play his chiming guitar lines at the front of the stage, absorbing everything he possibly could from the audience.
After slipping in a Craig David/Justin Timberlake medley as casually as an offered crisp, he eased into the ghoulish trip-hop of The Love You’re Given. With syncopated rhythms and percussion like algebra, every note or beat came from somewhere unexpected, yet earned its right to occupy its own personal pocket of space. The club bangers are fun, but it’s the precise tones of these centerpiece songs that Garratt has really commandeered.
He’s clearly a perfectionist: a man who dropped out of university, hanging his hopes on music, a man who turned his back on blues, squirming at his own lack of originality, and a man who spent four years moulding every corner of his debut album Phase to be the album he’s always wanted to make. This knowledge can make the crowd-pleasing formula of a keyboard tinkering into the pounding of drums a little frustrating, given his penchant for atmosphere and tension.
The final surge consisted of wobbly dubstep basslines and euphoria, usually reserved only for X-Factor montages. He made no attempt to hide his buzz. Following the announcement of the last song, he paused, with the realisation that he’d come to the end of what he described as the biggest night of his career – so he decided to play two more. If it had been up to him, he clearly would have repeated the set over and over until he was dragged offstage.
Photo: Erol Birsen
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Watch the video for Breathe Life here: