Live Review: Jack Garratt at Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds

Following on from my earlier interview with Jack, I was incredibly excited to see what the Work In Progress Tour had to offer; it seemed the rest of the crowd joined me in my eager anticipation as a quiet buzz of pre-show chatter rose quickly, the sold-out show filling up just as fast. Upon entry, the audience were each handed a small, sealable bag and a card instructing them to turn their phones to silent and place them inside – this was a tour where audiences were to live in the moment and not record/take photos, so as to preserve the secrecy of the unreleased songs until the release of Love, Death and Dancing on May 29th.

On the stage stood a minimalistic set, representative of Jack’s home studio (but surrounded by small, dimly-lit lightbulbs that softly illuminated everything). Though in a contained area, this certainly did not hold back in its plethora of synths, keyboards, drum pads, pedals and guitars that the multi-instrumentalist would be using. One thing that has always fascinated and wowed audiences beholding Jack Garratt’s performances is his ability to move so effortlessly between each instrument, and move their sounds in together simultaneously, accompanied by his soulful, echoing vocals. After many melodic teasers being posted to Instagram stories, it was hard to believe that the anticipation was about to be broken and we would get to see what he had in store for us with this setup.

In short: the show most definitely did not disappoint. It especially managed to capture the essence of the emotional evening that was mentioned by Jack in the interview, and swung very nicely between those intense feelings and being a collectively enjoyable experience for everyone. A notable moment that left fans talking after the show was an acoustic rendition of ‘Weathered’ from Jack’s debut album Phase; a well-loved fan favourite, this got the whole room singing in harmony, which was as moving and emotional to hear and see as it was joyful and uplifting. Though many songs from the sophomore album that were played sat firmly in the ‘emotional’ camp, the chat in between songs explained the meaning behind these with a true ‘Jack Garratt’ mix of anecdote, honesty and dry humour – earning a lot of laughs from the crowd and keeping the mood light when tackling some often very difficult subjects. For example, it was revealed to the crowd that the song ‘Mara’, released as part of Volume 1 for Love, Death and Dancing came from Jack’s own struggles with intrusive thoughts, and was inspired by the Buddhist story of Mara (the eponymous miscreant of the song, representative of intrusive thinking and temptations). On the eve of his enlightenment, Buddha was disturbed by Mara as an attempt to lure him away from his meditation, yet rather than be angry towards him and tell him to go away, he invited him to have tea and talk about why he was there to cause the disruption. Jack stated that finding this story had been a great help to him when he was battling these thoughts, as it acted as an encouragement for him to sit with them/talk about them and why they were occurring. It was fantastic to feel an air of the room once again coming together that evening, as it really did feel like we were a small, exclusive group hearing these stories from a friend as Jack spoke about them. As promised, he then allowed the song to speak for itself: a slightly softer, slower take on the recorded version, but still conveying the poetic, ethereal feel of the track as it was originally intended. The emotional part of the evening had truly hit.

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The visuals for the show were equally as spellbinding as the music and reflective of the way in which the tour was presented; simple and stripped-back, yet still very carefully thought out down to the last detail. This mostly consisted of a projector at the front of the stage, displaying the colourful collages and marble effect patterns similar to those used in Jack’s latest music video for his song ‘Time’, and the album art for Love, Death and Dancing. This also cast Jack’s signature silhouette onto the wall behind; an atmospheric touch that somehow managed to add even more stage presence than the abundance already being exuded by the man himself.

All in all, it was clear that the Work In Progress Tour was a real hit with the audience in Leeds, and had taken many on an incredibly honest and raw emotional journey through both the stories and music shared. I think it’s safe to say that the tour has more than achieved what it set out to do – every new song premiered received a warm reception from fans, and there is no doubt that May 29th and the release of Love, Death and Dancing should be a date marked in everyone’s diary and awaited with eager anticipation.

Review and photography by Chloe Addlesee

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