It feels like it was only yesterday when Jungle’s dance-worthy, self-tilted debut album graced our ears, and the bopping chorus of their catchy hit “Busy Earnin’” remained buzzing along in our minds for days on end. Considering their first (and only) album release was way back in 2014 – a time when sister-in-law’s had arguments with rappers in lifts, and high-profile rock bands “gifted” the world with albums on iTunes – I was shocked to hear that they were touring. Needless to say, I knew I was in for a treat the minute I stepped into a sold-out Factory Theatre, immediately feeling the energy of the crowd that had arrived for a boogie, four years on from the band’s inauguration.
As a quick hiatus between their Falls Festival circuit, the Londoners, obviously well-trained in the extreme sport of festivals, showed no fatigue as they took to the stage amongst a display of keys, synths, guitars, drums and percussion. It didn’t take long to notice that front men, Josh Lloyd-Wilson and Tom McFarland were close buddies, with their noticeable playful charm bouncing off one another to roll out their first song of the night, “House in LA”. A new track to start was a brave move for the 7-piece ensemble but it immediately paid off, as the tune still exuded their signature eclectic percussion and trademark falsetto which got the nod of approval from punters within seconds.
After bassist Tom McFarland commented on the scorching Sydney weather, red lights and sirens flooded the stage to add a little more warmth into the mix, introducing the soul-drenched anthem, “The Heat”. Encompassing the entire venue, the track’s multiple layers of percussion, high-pitched crooning and spindling guitar had fans temperatures at an all-time high.
The heavy pulse, and smooth, sexy harmony in “Lucky I Got What I Want” was a slow burner at first, but at its finish had the crowd’s energy pulsing to chant out its chorus, “… don’t you, forget about me!”, in sync. What made their show so invigorating, was the height of energy and comradery the band delivered with seemingly zero effort. From track to track, the charismatic leading lads weren’t afraid to goofily drive their guitar headstocks into the floor or coincide their choruses with a swig of red wine, while the backup vocals had us mesmerised with their perfectly timed swaying hips, and polished harmonies.
Jungle then let the sweaty room simmer down a notch for a more mellow, lovesick rendition of “Julia”, but quickly amped things up again, with the first few bars of “Busy Earnin”, which immediately grabbed the crowd’s ears. With a new-found energy, fans grooved to the hard-hitting slap bass, and tropically saturated synthesisers until the song’s end.
Full of life, dense, diverse, perhaps a little risky and no doubt wild, Jungle couldn’t have been more aptly named as they finished their killer set with “Time”. These guys put on a ridiculously impressive show, leaving fans to walk away speechless. Any words that could be muttered from beneath their giant grins involved the heightened anticipation for Jungle’s new material and let me assure you, it’s going to be worth the four-year wait.
Photos by Lars Roy.