Jack Garratt – Live at Newcastle University – Review

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Jack Garratt has a confidence that comes not from experience but pure talent. He’s sold out his debut tour and he is pretty damn giddy about it: Garratt laughed joyously throughout the first half of his set at Newcastle University’s Student’s Union on Monday (4 April). It’s clear that his newfound fame hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

Garratt wrote, played instrument on, produced and mixed every song on his debut album Phase. He also did the same live, and that was an incredible feat to behold.

Opening with the acoustic ‘Synesthesia, Pt. I’, Garratt sauntered onto the central podium amid applause and cheers from the packed-out crowd and played every instrument solo. That included keyboard, beatbox, drums and guitars, whilst delicately mixing the various elements of each track with careful ease.

There may have been a couple of mistakes (‘Fuck it!’ Garratt cried after mistiming one of the beat changes on ‘Breath Life’) but Garratt managed to continue the set as though nothing had gone wrong, which added to the overall charm of his first gig. His production may be polished, but his coolness isn’t. It was evident that he couldn’t quite contain his excitement.

Take ‘Weathered’, for example. Beginning the sublime track slowly, the audience soon drowned out Garratt on many of the lines, so much that Garratt gave us a masterclass on his lyrics by firstly saying them over the slowed down beats, and then secondly laughing giddily as the audience recanted them with ease. It was apparent how much this meant to Garratt; the grin extended ear to ear.

‘I’m going to play you some fucking songs!’ Garratt said at the beginning of his set. Well, we couldn’t expect anything different, would we? He played all the best tracks from Phase, including ‘Chemical’, ‘Breath Life’, ‘Weathered’ and ‘Fire’, and all of them were impeccably recreated.

It was phenomenal to watch Garratt playing every instrument, whilst toying with the various production boards at his disposal, and lighting the stage. The stage lighting was fine-tuned to change with the slightest shift in tempo, and you could tell that an age had been spent perfecting the overall look and sound of the set.

Garratt shared many personal stories with the crowd, including the fact that he dropped out of university – perhaps not the best thing to tell an audience of students. He also had many laughs at using an airhorn and lighting combination to blind and deafen the front row of the crowd. His joy was intoxicating; the audience couldn’t help but laugh along with him. The set felt both personal and shared.

Garratt was slightly worn out following several performances, including the high-octane ‘Far Cry’ and ‘Worry’, both of which were extended versions of the album counterparts to highlight just how talented Garratt truly is. His brief interludes between songs to afford himself a breather were graciously allowed by the audience.

Vocal wise, Garratt may just have one of the best live voices I’ve ever heard. His range is pristine, his falsetto sharp. Garratt must be applauded on every level for producing a gig that many seasoned artists couldn’t even hope to achieve. His next tour in November will have A LOT to live up to!