It’s official, Jungle are back. After falling off the radar after their eponymous album tour, they returned for their first London headline tour since June 2015 at an intimate (for them) Electric Brixton. With an emphatic set that showcased new songs, old favourites and a simply awesome set design, Jungle’s live show is expertly mixed with live theatrics that gives their shows a carnival feel.
Londoner PAULi opened the show with his afro-futurist brand of hip-hop. As an accomplished drummer that has worked with some of the best that music has to offer (he was the drummer for Damon Albarn on his Everyday Robots tour), it was a little disappointing to see him working off just his laptop, rather than a full live band. However, some songs were very impressive. ‘I DON’T CARE’, off his THE IDEA OF TOMORROW EP, is an anthemic slice of electro hip-hop that reminded me of FKA Twigs.
Arriving on stage a little late – of course to keep the excitement brewing – Jungle opened with a new song, ‘House in L.A’, which is always a risk. Nevertheless, its bass-heavy, throbbing drumbeats sounded fantastic throughout and it was clear already that it’s unlikely that they will suffer from second album syndrome. Next came three live favourites ‘Platoon’, ‘The Heat’ and ‘Accelerate’ from their debut album which got huge reactions from the crowd. ‘Accelerate’, in particular, got the crowd grooving and moving. Along with ‘Platoon’, it demonstrated how versatile Jungle are as a band. They can make dancey hits, but they can also make terrific slices of chilled-out neo-soul in the vein of their biggest influence, Marvin Gaye.
Another couple of new songs, ‘Beat 54’ and ‘Cherry’, were spliced between mega-hits ‘Lucky I Got What I Want’ and ‘Julia’. It’s clear that Jungle know exactly how to play to crowds like this now after honing their craft at massive festivals. As a mini-tour between albums it could’ve been an awkward, clunky show exhibiting the new songs, but Jungle balanced their setlist well, showing respect to their fans which was reciprocated throughout.
Another new one, ‘Happy Man’, was played towards the end of the set. Undoubtedly the best of the new ones, it’s got a dancier energy that Jungle haven’t really showcased before. With cutting vocals, trembling basslines and a resonating, poppy synth it wouldn’t be out of place in an Ibiza club. After this, it was hit after hit with Jungle ending on the softer ‘Drops’. which saw the crowd clicking in unison and then their two biggest songs either side of the encore. Ending their main set on ‘Busy Earnin’ saw the crowd bouncing around while encore song ‘Time’ saw the crowd shouting back every word.
Glass Animals aside, there aren’t many bands like Jungle. Looking around the crowd, it’s clear that they seem to appeal to pretty much everyone and that’s because of their ambidexterity as a band. They make slow jams, upbeat hits and bouncy numbers that make people want to dance. Plus, their live show is exceptional. With an extraordinary backing band, club-style lighting and expert mixing, they sound fresh, crisp and contemporary. It’s good to have them back and have no fear about the difficult second album. On this showing, it’s going to be excellent.