It’s probably an insult to call JUNGLE’s first of two spectacular sold-out nights at the Greek Theatre a show, when the performance was truly an experience. While some may describe them as neo-soul/funk, it’s a safe bet to also call them “designer disco” – with truly slick production, out-of-this world falsetto nearly the entire set, a world-class band of musicians adopting the electronic tracks to a live setting and truly non-stop dance music moments for a time when letting loose is a must. JUNGLE are one of several high-brow electronic acts taking on a hybrid opportunity to showcase their production talents by elevating them to a live experience – and it’s paying off with energy and style.
It must be said again that JUNGLE lead members Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland sing just about the entirety of the show in falsetto (and well), which is an incredibly difficult thing to do. An alarming sound took over the Greek kicking off the show in the dark with the lights up for “Let’s Talk About It”, one of several singles off the UK band’s third studio album Loving In Stereo, released in August. The night was packed with (nine of the fourteen) infectious songs from that album as well as their previous two albums since breaking in 2014 with their self-titled album.
The stage was set with precision like an actual disco with two steps lofting the five touring musicians, with a glowing light surrounding the seven total. The band looked like they were dropped into a partial cube giving onlookers a glimpse into this must-see extravaganza. The tempo was up for another new track “Keep Moving” with the lights blazing a little more, getting the whole place dancing, while percussionist Geo Jordan soared on the cowbell and a long instrumental on bass allowed Jordan “PHANTOMjjjjj” Hadfield to shine. Both of these songs as well as most everything else the entire night was further strengthened by powerhouse back-up vocalist Andreya Triana.
The lights switched from twinkling yellows to oranges and reds on shimmering track “The Heat” while JUNGLE said “I wanna see everyone’s fucking hands in the air”. It was the first of several well-intentioned f-bombs as the band was clearly pumped to headline two sold-out nights at the F-ing Greek!
Bass-heavy disco song “Beat 54 (All Good Now)” delivered bright and happy feels, with beautiful harmonies. This pure disco song is for sure a reflection of that earlier comment “designer disco”. The strobe lights were blazing strong for yet another moody song, the harmonious “Julia”.
JUNGLE shook up their sound with newer soul/hip-hop track “Romeo” (sans rapper Bas) which was still solid with the band accompanying the featured singer on screen. Flush in an orange stage wash, a massive semicircle flashed on the screen symbolizing the sunshine on the delightful new track “Bonnie Hill”, an incredible composition in every way. From a masterful guitar solo from Jordan, grooves from Hadfield on the bass, George Day on the drums, to the radiant vocals by Lloyd-Watson and McFarland as well as the accompanying vocals from Triana and keyboardist and guitarist Lydia Kitto, who also has the standout moment on the track with brilliant skills on flute.
The feel-good moments continued with the crowd clapping along to the upbeat “Smile”, and the JUNGLE guys briefly spoke to the crowd earning them some cheer.
A Halloween-themed orange and black stage was set for the mid-tempo “Happy Man” which came alive and actually has a lot of depth, speaking to all the things we want that don’t necessarily make us happy. The crowd clapped in unison followed by a solid instrumental by the end. The sexy groove of “Cherry” was next with the audience dancing slowly, you could almost hear a faint whisper of the crowd singing along to this falsetto-y song while the stage was flush in red, eventually blending with hues of blue, like the veins of a heart.
Yellow and white light ignited the stage for the lively “Truth” which was pretty amazing live, more of a 60s-inspired psychedelic powerpop bop with the guitars shining and everyone singing along. The JUNGLE guys talked briefly again to the crowd about playing among the canyons, they mentioned the planets and had some laughs.
The hypnotizing “Pray” showcased more marvelous falsetto vocals, with a digitized, groovy string section sounding like a Bond theme and bongos to close out the tune with a beautiful female vocal. A purple wash enveloped the stage with the hi-hat in full effect for “Lucky I Got What I Want”, a dreamy ballad with euphoric sounds as well as a moment where it sounded like a spaceship was landing. More futuristic sounds continued with the crowd clapping along to the 70s funk tune “Fire” which has a slight element of Thriller.
Andreya Triana had another big moment with “What D’You Know About Me”, the funked-up, full band spectacle, getting the whole place dancing as white strobe lights revolved around the musicians. The dance party was in session for the upbeat “All Of The Time” with Jordan smashing it on the keys and everyone dancing for this high-energy song.
The place was screaming and filling up with chants and clapping, as the audience waited at least a few minutes for JUNGLE’s return. A tinge of the opening note of “Casio” was playing during that break and then the band went into the bouncy song with wonderful vocals, and the bass and drums twinked throughout with the crowd singing along. People went crazy for “Busy Earnin'”, a completely slick rendition with the bass keeping the groove and the JUNGLE guys shouting “Yo LA, let’s see your hands in the air! I want to thank our incredible crew for putting on this production”. They then introduced the band and went into their finale, “Time” with JUNGLE shouting “please make some noise for this fucking incredible band”. It was another big dance moment, with huge guitar and drum highlights and a final instrumental leaving fans wanting more. JUNGLE declared during their bows, “Love each other!”
Bass player, singer and DJ Blue DeTiger performed for most dates as support for JUNGLE and will continue for a second night tonight, Friday, October 29 at the Greek Theatre, the final night of their North American tour.
Photos by Sarah Woods, courtesy of Goldenvoice