The Brudenell Social Club might have seemed like a bit of an odd setting to see Jagwar Ma in at first glance (there’s something of a living room-esque feel about the place) but by the end of the night it feels as comfortable as a successful house party.
Taking to the stage after stellar support from Formation, the lights are up and we kick straight off with an ethereal blend of ‘What Love’ and ‘Don’t Make It Right’. By the time we hit ‘Uncertainty’ from debut album ‘Howlin’ hands are in the air and everyone’s shouting lyrics back. From here on in, the set reads almost more like a single never ending dance track than individual songs – although first single off the new album ‘OB1’ is a definite highlight. There’s some kind of comment from guitarist Gabriel Winterfeld about having an ex-girlfriend from Leeds but under the swirling synths, it’s hard to tell what he’s actually said (although it leading into ‘Man I Need’ is possibly all we need to know about that relationship).
Jono Ma’s synth set up is quite something to behold: while he’s placed at the back of the stage behind a small wall of buttons. as he jumps nimbly from one switch to the next, it’s clear he’s the backbone of the operation. You don’t quite realise just how teasing the wait for their breaks is until you witness it live: the wait for the chorus to finally drop in ‘Give Me a Reason’ is a tantalising one as they continuously pull back into the verse.
The projections could have been a little more effective – the black walls of the Brudenell didn’t quite do them justice – but the stars and planets painted on the back of the stage coordinated nicely with the stickers on Gabriel’s guitar. Lighting and atmosphere are clearly no issue for the crowd however, with the band really drawing out the mover and shaker in every person across the room. Playing ‘Say What You Feel’ as part of the encore with just guitars is a refreshing reminder of their indie influences but the cascading blend of dance and the psychedelic is what makes things special. As Gabriel leads the crowd in a left step/right step move mid set – a good old boogie that’s what we’re all here for.
Words by Eleanor Weinel. Photo by Jacob Flannery.