JBM at Bush Hall
Sat on the floor of Bush Hall for the entirety of his concert, the crowd for JBM – aka Jesse Bryan Marchant – don’t have the air of festivalgoers resting their soles for the moshing to come, but rather one of bank holiday picnickers setting up camp on the common.
With beautiful chandeliers, low-key lighting, decent acoustics and a bar that boasts Pimms and Pernod, Bush Hall is a middle-class Eden of a music venue. It also has a strong background in grown-up, slightly leftfield pop with reviews of artists from Regina Spektor to Aqualung adorning the walls everywhere you look. The ideal setting, then, both for JBM’s brand of atmospheric balladry and his first London gig.
On Fire on a Tightrope is an entrancing opening followed swiftly by workmanlike selections from JBM’s debut album – 2010’s Not Even in July – and 2012’s follow-up Stray Ashes. In the studio Marchant follows in the footsteps of Bon Iver, isolating himself from society and recording almost all the instrumentals personally. But on stage he pares this minimalism back further to little more than a plaintive voice above a simple guitar.
But it isn’t until Swallowing Daggers that the audience really get on board with this. The audible slide of Marchant’s fingers up and down the acoustic strings conjures memories of Gustavo Santaolalla’s OST to Brokeback Mountain. This beautiful song is a welcome source of contrast to the otherwise similar timbre, tone and mood of the set-list.
Indeed, despite Marchant’s jumping from electric to acoustic guitars throughout, there is no disguising the fact that his songs are quite homogenous. The lyrics, in particular, are incredibly similar. But, as with a fireside raconteur where the joy is in the telling of a story not the story being told, so JBM weaves a certain sophistry to keep things entertaining if not wildly stimulating.
A genteel round of applause salutes Cleo’s Song as the finale to the show. Perhaps fittingly there’s no standing ovation. After all, it has been a while since the audience last spent an hour cross-legged on the floor.
Photos: Krish Nagari
For further information about JBM and future events, visit here.
Watch the video for On Fire on a Tightrope here: