Gig Review & Photo Gallery: Jack Garratt @ 170 Russell

Easily the most hyped artist to come out of the UK in recent times, Jack Garratt is a man of prodigious talent. A multi-instrumentalist (he can play guitar, drums, keyboard and, of course, sing) Garratt won the Critic’s Choice Award at this year’s Brit Awards and released his debut album, Phase, to unanimous praise by critics and has won fans the world over, with a peak chart position of number 3 in the UK and 9 here in Australia (so far), selling out shows wherever he goes.

Supporting Garratt on the night was Kacy Hill, previously a back-up dancer for Kanye West’s Yeezus tour a few years ago, who is currently signed to West’s own, GOOD Music label. An artist with a gifted vocal ability herself, Hill has catchy songs but performed a largely unremarkable set (her drummer probably displayed the most energy overall).

Cute and shy on stage, there is an inner confidence there and you can’t deny Hill’s mesmerising, falsetto vocals. Appropriately closing her short set with a song Garratt himself produced, ‘Foreign Fields’, Hill was warmly received by the crowd. With the ability and high-profile connections she has, Kacy Hill is definitely going places in the not-too-distant future.

After a bit of adjustment to the equipment set-up, the stage was set for Garratt to make his long-awaited appearance. Teasingly making the crowd wait 30 minutes, he finally made his triumphant entrance in a shroud of mist and darkness.

Kicking off with ‘Coalesce (Synesthesia, Pt. II)’, the full array of Garratt’s talents was on display right from the get-go, as he sang, drummed, played keyboard and twisted knobs all with a delirious energy that was simply irresistible. Receiving a standing ovation after just his second song, ‘Breathe Life’, Garratt hit a hat-trick when he busted out, ‘Weathered’, which appeared to be a fan favourite as the crowd sung along to every word.

As well as having tonnes of charisma, Garratt proved himself to be unexpectedly funny. Taking a break from his set, he joked that he’d only play Michael McDonald covers (of The Doobie Brothers fame) for the rest of the night. Soon after, he casually launched into a brilliant and hilarious rendition of the Doobie’s 1979 hit, ‘What a Fool Believes,’ mirroring McDonald’s soulful, baritone vocals to a tee.

The banter continued as Garratt whipped out the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air followed closely by his best cover song of the night, a glorious mash-up of Craig David’s, ‘7 Days’ with Justin Timberlake’s, ‘Beautiful Girl’ to rapturous applause, yet again. After that bit of fun, it was time to get a little serious.

Easily the most emotional performance of the night, Garratt’s version of debut single, ‘The Love You’re Given,’ once again highlighting his astounding vocal range and versatility. That he still had time for drum solos and even a blues guitar solo in between tracks beggared belief.

The expense of all that energy (plus the potential he may’ve just touched down from the UK) had apparently taken its toll on Jack. Yelling out, ‘I’m so fucking tired!’ before launching into his final song, ‘Worry’, Garratt delivered the knockout blow, leaving the audience calling out for an encore as he walked offstage. He would not return, however, as we all shuffled out of 170 Russell, reflecting on Garratt’s mammoth performance.

Overall, the sheer invention on display was like nothing we’ve ever witnessed before in a live setting. It was also a beautifully paced set, peppered with plenty of humour and awe-inspiring moments. To sum it up in a word: Legendary.

For those unfamiliar with Jack Garratt or his music, do yourselves a favour and go see this man, ASAP!

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Sean AHearn

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