It’s a full house at Sydney’s Metro Theatre and the stage is built like a playground: keyboard, synths, drums, and more synths arranged in a circle, like a spaceship’s control room, with a place in the middle for Jack Garratt.
His parents sensed his musical hyperactivity at a young age, and so it was decided that if he liked music so much he might as well learn how to play everything. He’s a one-man band with a carefully calibrated orchestra around him so he can bash out anything he likes: a soulful ballad, snatches of electro pop, echoes of hip hop, rocky guitar riff, and – my favourite – some dirty, grindy R&B.
Garratt‘s best assets are his fierceness and ambition. From his solitary space on the stage he bumps and grinds, the energy of multiple instruments, genres and personalities seemingly flowing through him. His vocals go from a down low growl, to a sleek falsetto high, all whilst he slams crazily at his synths, coordinating his samples with the urgency of a mad scientist. He’s got this wild orange beard that juts out of his profile like it’s got a personality of its own.
Sure, he has a sweet side – you hear it in the folksy, poppy favourites ‘Weathered’ and ‘Surprise Yourself’, and he’s tickled by the fact that the audience knows the lyrics, crooning the words right back to him. But his most exciting performances explore darker tones of obsession, aggression and fantasy in ‘Chemical’ and ‘Fire’. Here, he takes his genre hopping to another level, tearing and sampling through form to create something delightfully wicked. Sounds like: A moody, messed-up Disclosure meets the Jameses (Jarryd James and James Blake) with the energy of a sugar-high child.
There are a few hiccups with the equipment on stage, but Garratt takes it in his stride. For a moment, he sulks, but the natural entertainer in him takes over: Turning to his piano, he plays a Charlie Chaplin-eseque melody as the technicians move quickly back and forth as if re-creating a movie from the silent era.
When this takes a little too long to fix, he plays the first few bars of Toto’s ‘Africa’, ‘The Rugrats’ theme song, and starts the crowd singing along to a sneaky sample of ‘The Fresh Prince of BelAir’. He treats us with a cover of Craig David’s ‘Seven Days’ mashed up with Justin Timberlake’s ‘Senorita’, to round up the shout-out to our youth.
A lot of what you’ll hear about Jack Garratt emphasises his relative “new-ness” to the industry – he’s only twenty-four and his debut album “Phase” has already received a string of accolades.
Can’t wait to see what else is to come.
Photos by something you said.
21 July 2016
The Metro Theatre