Jacob Banks at Somerset House
With Somerset House’s Summer Series well underway this weekend, the next artists to fill the open-air space with sound were Jacob Banks and his band. The frontman’s debut record Village was released late last year following a string of promising EPs, receiving acclaim from a range of critics for its thoughtful blending of musical influences, insightful lyrics and remarkable vocal delivery. The varied and masterfully balanced energies that pervade the artist’s music translated beautifully to the expansive but intimate venue provided by the Fountain Court, welcoming concert-goers into a few hours of gorgeous sounds within an electric atmosphere as the moon rose over the Thames.
The evident musical skill of Banks and his band deserves recognition in the first instance; to see tracks such as Slow Up and Kumbaya performed live is to reckon with a powerful storyteller not content to excel in just one discipline, the singer’s confident and unaffected vocals framed by musical accompaniment that plays assuredly with possibilities lying as yet unrealised on the album. The songwriter delivered his own work with fluidity and power, before captivating the audience with a cover of Coldplay’s Fix You that made the song somehow new, exciting, and a delight to hear.
Between songs, the audience was charmed by the musician’s understated observations, expressions of gratitude and genuine good wishes for his listeners, creating a sense of stage presence that is immense without being flashy, captivating without feeling artificial. The performer’s spoken words complemented the narratives woven through his lyrics, which – in live performance even more so than on the record – secure the artist’s place in the realm of poetry as much as that of music. By the time the much-requested encore was underway, and the summer sun had disappeared behind the white stone of Somerset House, Banks – who has previously opened for Alicia Keys and Sam Smith, amongst a broad scope of noteworthy talent – had more than proved his excellence as a performer in his own right.
Photos: Miguel de Melo
For further information and future events visit Jacob Banks’s website here.
Watch the video for Slow Up here: