Liverpool Music Week 2017 saw Jungle take to the stage at the near-capacity Invisible Wind Factory, for a hit-filled gig that did not disappoint. The venue was a perfect setting for the London-based soul collective to show off their live sound, with a remarkably varied audience of young and old dancing for the entirety of the set. The 7-piece was supported by electronic duo Makeness, and popular local trio Stealing Sheep, who set the tone of the evening brilliantly from the very first note.
With a setlist brimming with some of their best-known songs, from ‘Busy Earnin” to ‘Julia’ the group commands the stage with their hypnotizing vocals and soulful harmonies, sounding so polished it would be easy to mistake them for lip-syncing but this is a band that has crafted their sound and live show to near-prefection after starting life as a studio project, rather than something ever intended to be played live. The biggest set-back of the evening is the group’s lack of interaction with the fans in Invisible Wind Factory, but for those in the audience there purely for the good music, there was nothing to grumble about.
As someone who can’t claim to be any more than a casual fan of Jungle, it was surprising how quickly their live show draws you in, opening with ‘House in L.A’ and following on with a quick succession of hits: ‘Platoon’, ‘The Heat’ and ‘Accelerate’ all from their Mercury Prize shortlisted album Jungle. The group’s two founders, Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson are by no means short of talent with their command of numerous instruments and their impressive vocals; but live, the true show-stealer is the band’s only female member and backing vocalist Rudi Salmon, who captivates the audience and does more than her fair share of heavy lifting, vocals-wise on the live versions of the bands songs.
It’s the penultimate song of their set and their biggest hit to date ‘Busy Earnin” that unsurprisingly gets the biggest reaction of the night from the crowd, and the band clearly thrive off of their reaction. It’s hard to imagine how music like that from Jungle can translate so effectively to a live setting; with their intricate sound it would be easier to simply play along to prerecorded tracks, but by not taking the easy way out the band earned more than a little respect back from their fans.
The group’s modern take on soul and funk attracts even casual listeners like me, and you can’t help coming away from a gig like this without being thoroughly impressed. The band have gained a big following over recent years and with the likes of Noel Gallagher proclaiming they’re the best current band out there and previously describing their self-titled debut album as “f***ing amazing”, it’s not hard to imagine they’ll soon be taking over the music world with full force.
Listen to Jungle on Spotify.
Or head over to their website for info on future gigs and new music.