George FitzGerald – The Haunt, Brighton – 26th March 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

Mondays are a strange day for gigs. People are still groggy from the weekend, as well as being tired from their first day back at work, which usually creates quite a subdued atmosphere in an audience. It is to George FitzGerald’s testament, then, that he got The Haunt crowd moving and grooving to his electronic dance music like it was the early hours of the morning on a Saturday, subsequently forgetting that a certain Mr Cocker was playing an intimate, sold-out set just down the road at Patterns. FitzGerald’s Brighton show, the first night on the All That Must Be album tour, featured an immense amount of banging dance tunes, as well as a few moments of quiet reflection in a show that was well balanced, exciting and an incredible example of four brilliant live musicians.

Opening with the swift one-two of All That Must Be’s opening track, ‘Two Moons Under’, and Fading Love’s, ‘Knife To the Heart’, it was a kinetic start to the evening that already saw the crowd jumping around, with their arms flailing as well as heaps of whooping and cheering. Instantly it’s clear what a live talent FitzGerald is, as he moves between a variety of instruments with an incredible amount of pace to create his trademark ripples of electronica. He has a great deal of energy on stage, as if his own music is spurring him on to keep up the frenetic pace.

“The last time I was in Brighton was supporting Bonobo” FitzGerald announced before flying into the best song on All That Must Be, the Bonobo-featuring ‘Outgrown’. The track was a revelation in the live sphere. The ambient intricacies swirled through the venue in a track that was one of the more contemplative of the night. ‘Outgrown’ is a beautiful song that could have been seen as a slight risk in a live setting, but FitzGerald showed a huge amount of respect to the audience’s patience and was duly rewarded as it received one of the biggest reactions of the night.

The profound nature of some of these songs creates some beautiful moments throughout the night. However, at times, there appeared to be almost a lack of intimacy due to the lack of a singer and the fact that FitzGerald was positioned at the back of the stage. The employment of singer Obenewa Aboah for a few songs, though, was a master-stroke as she connected with the crowd with her incredible talent and endearing charm.

One example of this was with ‘Roll Back’. On the record it’s sung by English electronic musician Lil Silva, but Aboah performed it with such confidence the difference is barely noticeable. It’s an esoteric track that, for the first time on the night, created an intimate, personal atmosphere between the artist and the audience. Essentially the most important crux for an electronic artist, FitzGerald impressively continued to hold the audience from that point on. Additionally, it was from this moment where his live band started to really feel like an ensemble of brilliant artists coming together, rather than a solo performance. Both drummer Guillaume Jambel and Mike Lesirge on keys, as well as Aboah and FitzGerald, really started to feel like a truly great live collective.

The performance was no doubt at its best when Aboah is at the forefront. She almost created a directness, as if there’s more of a focus when she’s in the limelight, that spawns a more carnival-like atmosphere. Take ‘Half-Light’, for example, which acted as a time machine as the gig, and the audience, was swiftly taken back to the 90s with its glorious 90s club vibe and aesthetic. Ultimately, FitzGerald’s live show featured all the intricacies and intimacies of his records, that showcased his musical gift as an artist, but it all came together as a four-piece live force of nature.

Liam McMillen