It’s been quite the year for Jade Bird. The unmistakeable noise of hype has surrounded the diminutive singer from Hexham all through 2018, boosted initially by word-of-mouth before reaching fever pitch after an appearance on Later With Jools and a multitude of festival slots. Packing a Brighton venue for the second time in a year, The Haunt was a sizeable upgrade tonight from March’s Green Door Store show. With her debut album wrapped only days before and being prepped for a 2019 release, tonight was a chance to prove that the initial excitement is now capable of bearing real fruit.
A solo, spacious and beautiful rendition of ‘What Am I Here For’ gives a sense of calm before the storm. Also taken from the Something American EP, ‘Cathedral’ is the spark that lights the fire, before recent single ‘Uh Huh’ continues to ease the crowd into the night, ahead of their first glimpse of tracks from that forthcoming debut. ‘Does Anybody Know’, a melancholy track about loneliness is a stark moment driven by a pounding beat, then giving way to the mournful piano of ‘If I Die’; the mood slightly punctured by Jade disappearing round the corner and largely out of sight to play. The sadness doesn’t last, however, soon giving way to a procession of bangers that show Bird is going to be a serious pop contender next year.
Live at least, there seems to be a willingness to throw off the country sound with much of the new material. ‘Side Effects’ is a pure banger, heavier in delivery than anything she’s done before, the band rocking out tightly. To think that the Green Door Store show was their first time playing live as a group, those months on the road have paid off in spades on tonight’s evidence. ‘Hold That Thought’ is pure drive time rock, while a fun cover of ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ gets any last stationery feet moving triumphantly. It’s the energy and passion that she provokes from the crowd that are the surest sign of her impending stardom, and not just the amount of boiler suits dotted around the room. There’s distinct signs of someone building a passionate fanbase, many young fans gazing on adoringly throughout the whole set.
There is no letup on the home stretch. The trusty one-two of ‘Lottery’ and ‘Going, Gone’ (the latter sounding more and more like Johnny Cash reborn each time they play it), gives the night the safety net of familiar songs to finish on. There is no need to worry about the new or unfamiliar, though. On tonight’s showing, if the record sounds anything like the live performance (and why wouldn’t it), 2019 is there for the taking for Jade Bird.