Not Just a Phase: Jack Garratt Concert Review
A ginger crooner with a smooth falsetto who plays all his own instruments. Ed Sheeran? Nope. Try Jack Garratt, the latest UK export to make his way stateside. Having supported Mumford & Sons on tour as well as winning the Critics' Choice category at the 2016 Brit Awards, Garratt has just released his debut studio album Phase and is on tour throughout the U.S. to support it.
The recent Chicagoan (he moved to the city 6 months ago) played in his newly adopted hometown at a sold out show in the intimate Lincoln Hall in Lincoln Park. The opening act was a young woman by the name of Kacy Hill, a former American Apparel model and backup dancer for Kanye West's Yeezus Tour (and signed to his GOOD Music label) turned electronica indie songbird. Another pale ginger, her music was a mix of the restrained and fluttery vocals of London Grammar, the powerhouse pipes of Florence + the Machine, all over a melodic keyboard and heart thumping bass. Hill is supporting Garratt's tour in the US and UK, and the two have collaborated together on tracks from her EP, Bloo.
From the upper level balcony we had a perfect view of Garratt. Surrounded by a keyboard, beat pad, mic and guitar stand, he stood on stage, cracking profanity-laced jokes and expressing his excitement at the enthusiasm to a rapt audience who laughed and played along. The occasional "I love you!" emerged from the crowd.
Talking between songs, Garratt played tracks from his new album, which can best be described as electronica indie-pop. Think keening falsetto, moody keyboard melodies, and melancholy-tinged lyrics layered over growling beats and unexpected drops. Whereas the studio version of his album is pleasantly controlled and polished smooth, live, Garratt puts on a real performance. Constantly moving from the keyboard to the beat pad to some mean guitar riffs, he infuses his songs with a heightened drama and ferocity that has been rounded out in the studio. His catchy single "Fire", played towards the end of the set, wove back and forth from quivering vulnerability to rousing energy, his soft voice contrasting with the crashing beat. Closing the show was his 2014 single "Worry", a sparse song, delicate in its wistful sadness. On stage the spotlight dimmed to a moody blue as Garratt collected himself. Live, "Worry" was marked by his heaving voice, the lyrics sometimes choked out sometimes growled, the sharp edges barely masked, and the added edge of an electric guitar solo towards the end.
2424 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL 60614
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