This debut tour has seen him travel the UK with his 9-piece band across 7 dates, the penultimate gig of which taking over Academy 2. Forget what you think you know about Jack from Bombay Bicycle, before you listen to Mr Jukes, clear your head and come in with a fresh mind ready for this total re-brand.
Inspired by his time out travelling around the world he found himself in a Jazz Kissaten (or cafe to you and I) – a cultural phenomenon that has lasted the test of time in Japan with back-to-back vinyl across all walls and multiple generations to enjoy. Inspired, he has spent 2 years locked away in his bedroom conceiving his first album ‘God First’ which boasts an impressive list of guest vocalists.
Steadman takes centre stage with his trio of singers to his right and a trio of brass to the left, creating an imposing front line on the tip of the stage, with keys and drums sitting behind. The first track is ‘Somebody New’ and it’s clear from the off everyone is on the same page as Jukes – the band and the crowd all perfectly synced with the lead man revelling in his new role. Jack carries a beaming smile throughout the first track, the face of a man who has returned from hiding and enjoying the limelight.
It must always be a personal worry for a one album band – how to take a 40 minute album into a full show? The first tactic is his first cover for the night ‘Fall In Love’ by Slum Village. Mr Jukes is showing his pedigree and delivering a well thought through show. Extended versions of album tracks follow, from ‘Golden Stars Comes Silver Dew’, ‘Leap Of Faith’ which features De La Soul, ‘Magic’ and ‘Tears’ lead into an extended outro where his talented musicians get to showcase their skills.
It’s obvious why Jack has pulled this team together. It all looks natural, even down to the way the brass slide in and out of the mic. It concludes with the drummer getting his chance with a long solo, scoring some easy points from the crowd leading into another cover ‘Stratus’ by Herbie Hancock.
Crowd favourite ‘Ruby’ slows down the tempo and arguably, the best track on the album for Steadman’s vocals, He openly admits he has tried to do the vocals on many tracks on the album but did not suit his voice; this however, could not be a better fit. The live version earns its extended applause.
He takes a moments rest to pass the stage over to singer Frieda for the next track ‘Doo-wop’ by Lauren Hill. Needless to say Frieda f@cking kills it! As a backing singer who’s given her 5 minutes would, she goes full diva. A widening grin takes Steadman into hit track ‘Angels/your Love’ and an obligatory encore.
All 9 members return for a dark remix of album opener ‘Typhoon’. Steadman takes it in his stride, bobbing around the stage armed with his jet-black bass. An emotional end to the gig with ‘Grant Green’ a fitting tribute to king of soul Charles Bradley who collaborated with Jukes on this track and sadly passed away this same week. No one in this venue wants the music to stop, not least Steadman.
‘Can we just do a residency in Manchester? Honestly you guys, I don’t say this every night, ‘You’ve put the other crowds to shame’
For once I believe him, it was impossible not to be engrossed in the amount of joy Mr Jukes was soaking up from putting on this show. Tonight was as much about the connection with the crowd as it was the quality of the music, which was never in doubt.
Mr Jukes played it perfectly; the man is a musical multi-genre genius and could have easily looked out his comfort zone. Hopefully many more gigs to look out for. Upcoming shows include a late late show at the famous Jazz club Ronnie Scott’s in Soho on November 23rd.