Photos by Joshua Chia
Jack Garratt has hit a new pace in the months since his last appearance in Toronto, now to the point where over the course of his show at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, fans broke out into chants of his name repeatedly. “You guys came OUT tonight,” he exclaimed early on in his hour-long set; unsurprisingly, so did he.
As both a one-man band and multi-skilled musician, it’s fascinating to take in how easily yet energetically the London-native navigates his way around his physical environment, focused on pouring all that he can into every percussion hit, soulful note and rich laugh. His shows are the kind that remind you what its like to see an artist who doesn’t just present what they’ve got, but deliver it to your core. In his case, a swap for polished finesse was welcomed with off-the-cuff vocal riffs on songs like “Far Cry” and “Fire” from his debut album Phase and explosive extensions of his chopped electronica, adding to the spontaneity and genuine feel of the entire evening.
From the outset of “Coalesce (Synesthesia Pt. II)” through to the roaring chorus of “Surprise Yourself” and breakout hit “Worry”, the pay-off to Jack’s commitment to his message and music footnoted by accolades like the BBC Sound of 2016 win and the Critics Choice award at the Brit Awards came in bouts from a wildly impressed audience. Playing on the fun of a Saturday night evening, Jack teased a mini-series of covers ranging from a Spice Girls intro to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song and eventually, a one-off Jack Garratt vs. Craig David vs. Justin Timberlake mashup that should inspire any DJ to stretch electronica into throwback pop for the real feel good notes.
As is the case with any one of Jack Garratt’s shows, something about him suggests that he is there to do exactly that: transport listeners into a world of sonic wonder, punctuated by smooth rhythms, dance and a voice that can do everything and heal you at the same time. Though there was a notable change in the crowd’s enthusiasm from his last show at The Garrison to this, it felt like there was something special in Toronto that night. Garratt even noted on Twitter after the show, saying “Toronto made me feel like I was home and as somebody who is homesick 97% of the time I cannot thank you enough for that.” Least to say, the city awaits the next round.