Jeremy Loops and James Hersey at the Roundhouse
James Hersey’s love of performing shines through on stage, but mostly in his banter – lighthearted, charming quips about opening for Jeremy Loops at the Roundhouse. He steps about in white sneakers like a cat through snow – knees high, marching on the spot in theatrical footsteps – spooling lyrically vapid but inoffensive melodies. He runs through his singles, Real for You, Coming Over. On Miss You, wrapping drumsticks meld with a snapping crowd and the band’s enthusiasm momentarily overshadows the shallowness of their songs, energising the sold-out venue. But it feels like an opener, and as the musicians slip off stage the crowd are hungry for the main act.
Jeremy Loops is the first South African to perform a headline show at the Roundhouse since it reopened in 2006. A noteworthy achievement in its own right, it’s also the last show on his tour – time to go all out for a crowd that queued from Chalk Farm to Camden Stables, shuffling steps anxious to burst into dance. The lights dim, bass whumps and the singer-songwriter emerges like a boxer in a beach shirt. He beelines to centre stage and steps down on the loop pedal: bombastic harmonica fusing wind and beatbox, held between the mic with one hand, then the artist folds into a Tantric folk dance. Steps down: vocal loop, “Welcome to this show” on repeat. He dances to an acoustic guitar. Steps down: a rhythm of clean strings. In just seconds one man has created a small symphony. The band joins on stage, exploding into Sinner – and the venue raves.
Highlights tonight include Waves (with all-out audience engagement in the hook) and Down South, featuring genre-defying saxophone and rapper Motheo Moleko. It’s easy to be negative in this world, but tonight the crowd give into euphoria. The Afrikaans word for “celebration” is “viering”, a phonetic twin of English “veering”: to change direction suddenly. For most, Loops’s carefree music is a sharp 180, an overt, conscientious rejection of pervading sociopolitical and environmental worries. A moment’s break, to dance. Fusing city beats with lilting folk instrumentals, the singer uses mass appeal to promote positive change. Occasionally, the lyrics don’t measure up – is there enough substance to sustain our interest? – but to criticise would be to miss the point. Loops is here to spread love, and tonight he reigns triumphant – the encore’s fireworks and giant balloons underscore a conclusive sense of elation.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information about Jeremy Loops and future events visit the artist’s website here.
For further information about James Hersey and future events visit the artist’s website here.
Watch the video for Gold here: