REVIEW: Jack Garratt, Newcastle University

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

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Emerging mega-star Jack Garratt put on a scintillating performance on the first of two 2016 dates in Newcastle.

Performing to a mainly student audience at Newcastle University, Garratt played through material from his recent hit debut album Phase, and joked with the crowd at length between each track.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The multi-instrumentalist performed from behind his drum kit, playing keys, guitar and other instruments during a set that demonstrated why he's tipped as the next big thing in pop and R&B.

He returns to Newcastle as part of his autumn tour, at the O2 Academy on November 8, and is also set to appear at many of this summer's biggest festivals.

Although he has not had any bonafide hit singles to date, Garratt has racked up tens of millions of plays on streaming services, and was named the Critics' Choice at this year's Brit Awards.

The journey to find such adoration has been long, from a failed attempt to perform at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2005, to abandoning his first album due to a lack of pride in his work.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Now, having topped the BBC's Sound of 2016 and with his first album making it into the top five of the UK Album Chart, he has surely made his breakthrough, and is likely to be a major hit-maker for years to come.

Before he took to the stage, the ethereal singer-songwriter Kacy Hill performed a short but pleasant opening set of her material.

Backed by a keyboard player and a lively drummer on a cramped stage, her chilled music was more eclectic in nature than Garratt's, but received a positive response from an already-substantial crowd.

By the time Jack Garratt appeared, the Student Union venue was at full capacity, and his arrival at his drum kit was met with roars.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Drumming vocalists are seemingly in-vogue at the moment, with Isaac Holman of Slaves and Tarek Musa of Spring King two examples of a growing trend, but Jack adds many more elements by virtue of his skill with guitar, keys and more.

He remained behind his drum kit regardless of the instrument, which may have proved boring to watch if not for the nightclub-style light show accompanying his set.

Between songs, he reminisced about performing while he was at university, pointing out that it was the same, except for having more guitars to work with now.

And he toyed with the crowd through a rehearsed routine with the lights, and even encouraged bored-looking members of the audience to liven up.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Songs such as Breathe Life and Worry were affectionately received, while he played a great deal of material from his debut album, which has been critically-acclaimed. although it does have a tendency to sound the same in parts.

Garratt is a lively performer in a live setting, even when his music is at its most relaxed ebb, and fans of his music were undoubtedly not disappointed by the show.

He is likely to perform to a larger crowd when he returns to the city at the Academy in November, by which time he may be a household name.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Jack Garratt at Newcastle University. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Ethereal singer-songwriter Kacy Hill performed ashort opening set.

Ethereal singer-songwriter Kacy Hill performed ashort opening set.