Jungle at Alexandra Palace
London loves Jungle, as seen in the proportionally representative demographic in attendance at the sold-out Alexandra Palace.
The music of the Mercury Prize-nominees is a bricolage of genre, refusing to sit neatly somewhere between soul, synth-pop, electronica and funk. Yet there’s a coherent identity in their soundscape that has strong associations with summer happiness, promptly exemplified by the delightful one-two opener of Smile and Heavy, California, taken from their sophomore album For Ever.
Mid-year releases with an immeasurably upbeat energy contribute to this seasonal affiliation, and the sunny vibes are proliferated this evening with a bright and balmy lighting scheme across the red and yellow spectrum. Founders Tom McFarland and Josh-Lloyd Watson ensure that their collective’s rich aesthetics are transferred to live performance with a seven-piece band. Limiting their attire to camel and beige boiler suits, they nicely blend with the vibrant colours.
Divinely hanging above the musicians, like the star of Bethlehem, is their signage. The golden “JUNGLE” is inscribed in the ensemble’s signature typography and isn’t subject to stasis in illumination. The logo changes tints, and when the stage is obscured by smoke and stunning light rays bouncing to the back of the room during Lucky I Got What I Want and Drops, it’s the one vista that remains unaffected – the omniscient spectacle commanding a larger presence than any individual.
Beat 54 (All Good Now) is a favourite. The 70s-disco grooves of the record are aided by the grand entrance of a disco ball. People cry in excitement for this ancient concert relic. Andro and Rudi Salmon, the backing singers flanking the frontmen, infectiously sway their shoulders and the crowd imitates them – at least those who aren’t occupied with a loved one riding their shoulders.
Funky debut album songs Platoon and Crumbler play by way of a seamless transition and the instant classics Busy Earnin’ and Time are a natural finale. McFarland takes a moment to express gratitude to those who helped Jungle get to this point, selling out the venue with the largest standing capacity in his home city. We know the frontman means it when he uses expletives for emphasis.
The fans loudly “ooh” and “aah” in response, tapping into their evolutionary inheritance in this jungle. But whilst monkeys make noise to signal danger, these primates in London are nothing except exultant. They didn’t need to wait for festivals for the ultimate Jungle experience.
Photos: Mike Garnell
For further information and future events visit Jungle’s website here.
Watch the video for Casio here: