Mr Jukes @ Manchester Academy 2
Freshers’ week may have been a hectic time of society committee meetings, nights out and reading module handbooks, but all this was forgotten as I got the train over to Manchester to see one of my all-time favourite artists, Mr Jukes. Known to the indie world as Jack Steadman, the frontman to the legendary Bombay Bicycle Club, I was incredibly happy and curious to see him embark on his very first UK tour as a solo artist- and it was one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
However, before it was time to see the main man himself, the crowd was introduced to Puma Blue, the support band, hailing from South East London. Having received constant praise from the crowd during their set and receiving the best reaction to a support I’ve seen in a while, they’re a band to keep an eye out for, their slow, low-fi sounding tunes a mixture of King Krule and Mac DeMarco. Want Me is a perfect example of the band’s chilled out vibes and their effortlessly impressive sound, making it an easy add in to any playlist for a long night. (She’s) Just a Phase is another track from the night that I loved, as frontman Jacob Allen’s vocals mixed perfectly with the guitars, casting a dreamlike effect over the whole room.
Soon enough Mr Jukes entered the building to screams and roars. With an accompaniment of an 8-piece band (including 3 brass players) you could tell straight away that this would not be your average gig. Opening with Somebody New, the whole venue began moving and singing along instantaneously with the beat. The night soon became like a jam session as Steadman introduced those in his band around him and let them take the stage for their own. Jazz solo followed jazz solo throughout the night which followed nothing but cheers from the audience. So much so it felt as if there was a moment where the crowd didn’t stop applauding for 5 minutes straight.
With his new look of a shaved head, and donning a bass guitar rather than his usual electric or acoustic; watching Steadman on stage was like watching a different person to that of his earlier years with Bombay. The only thing which remained the same was the magic he holds with him in the room and the way he captures the whole crowd so they think of nothing else than the music he’s performing. From the look on his face it was clear to see that he genuinely loves what he does- thriving off the atmosphere and being totally in awe of the surroundings.
Stand out songs for me included Magic- a track that seemed to grow in feeling as it progressed. With lyrics ‘stop your sadness, stop your madness’ feeling almost mantra like by the end. Another favourite of mine, Tears, also made an appearance on the set list. As one of the only tracks on the album where Steadman’s vocals take a lead it was interesting to see it performed live. As he bounced on the soles of his feet in time with the music you could see how absorbed in the track he really was. However, the night soon took an unexpected turn as Doo Wop (That Thing) by Ms. Lauryn Hill began to echo throughout the room. Instantaneously the whole place erupted into cheers and danced as if it was only thing that mattered.
After playing the final song of the night, and also the first song released as Mr Jukes, Angels/Your Love, the band cleared the stage, but the night was not over yet. As the room screamed for more music and just one more song, they reappeared quicker than you could say Bombay Bicycle Club 3 times. Having saved the best till last, album opener Typhoon was swiftly followed by the belter that is Grant Green. There was no better way they could end a gig. Parting with the words ‘We’re Mr Jukes, and this is the band’ I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make an appearance somewhere else soon.
You can stream Mr Jukes’ debut God First now on Spotify/Apple Music