Jack Garratt, The Leadmill, Sheffield, 31.10.15

Reviewed by James Lavender

Something wicked this way comes…wickedly talented that is!

You may not be aware of Jack Garratt now, but you will be this time next year. The 22-year-old singer from Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire has had a low burning career since he first uploaded his own songs onto BBC Introducing, but thanks to the support of BBC Introducing, word-of-mouth and the seal of approval from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, Garratt has been named as the BBC Introducing Artist of the Year 2015 at the BBC Music Awards and a buzz is building around his debut album Phase, which comes out in the new year.

So supporting him at The Leadmill in Sheffield was Martin Luke Brown, the ‘Gritty soul hippy boy’ from Leicester. Much like the main act, Brown is a multi-instrumentalist and demonstrates his talents on both the piano (‘Scars on Scars’) and the guitar (‘Take Out Of Me’). Talented he may be, however I didn’t feel very inspired by him. His sound is very much formulaic with Ed Sheeran being able to do what he does, but much better and to more acclaim.

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As for Jack Garratt, he got into the spirit of the evening by dressing up in a full skeleton costume as if he had come from the Day of the Dead Festival in Mexico City. ‘Synaesthesia, Pt.1’ is an instrumental track which demonstrates to the audience how Jack creates his intricate sounds using a synth and sampling pad. His music is quite chilled out and relaxing, with ‘Water’ being a good example of this. These first two songs really set the mood for the rest of the night. Throughout the gig I was trying to pin down any artists which he reminded me of. Jack quickly gives me a clue when he performs a cover version of Disclosure’s ‘Latch’ ft Sam Smith. Both share a strong digital, electronic sound which combines British traditions of house and garage music with soul and pop. One of the most haunting songs in Garratt’s repertoire is ‘The Love You’re Given’.  It’s repeating choral sound adds to the song’s intense atmosphere.

Garratt has a friendly and easy-going stage presence, in which he banters with the audience and gives special shout outs to audience members with the best Halloween costumes. Special mentions go to a group of women dressed as Natalie Portman’s character from Black Swan. After a couple more songs, he teases that his set is ending (it isn’t), and he throws himself into ‘Weathered’ and the guitar-driven ‘Worry’, which neatly rounds things off.

Although his set was a bit short, you can’t really blame Garratt for that. Until now, he has only released singles and one EP so far. But for the time he had, he managed to sum up what the Jack Garratt sound is and what you expect to hear from his debut album next year. I for one can’t wait!

4 out of 5

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