Live Review: Jungle @ Alexandra Palace, London

An unusually mild February has given a nice taste of summer over the last couple of days absolutely prime for festival favourites, Jungle (XL Recordings) to bring summer magic to Alexandra Palace.

Nice weather in Britan meant the kids were out playing, pub gardens were busy and of course… delayed trains which meant I had to endure the gut-punch feeling of missing half of Little Simz’s set. I did. however, have the pleasure of catching “Backseat”  taken from Simz’s debut album Stillness In Wonderland. It boggles my mind to know that Islington’s finest rapper has only just turned 25. Simz owns the stage with such confidence you almost wish she would bottle it and sell it as merch. Definitely take a listen to her latest single, “Selfish” featuring Cleo Sol.

Last time I saw Jungle live it was on the Isle of Wight for Bestival in 2015, so the anticipation was thick in the air around me, let alone the venue. North London’s middle class, filled Alexander Palace’s auditorium, pushing to the front, taking more group shot selfies than they will look at and we’re hungry for some modern UK soul.

Maybe I just haven’t been plugged into Jungle’s news but unlike their 2014 self-titled debut album, I hadn’t heard a lot about their follow-up ‘For Ever’  within the social realms that I’m endlessly scrolling through, so I was eager to hear the soul collective’s new tracks live. Jungle came on stage with a beautiful setup rich with colour, kick-starting their set with the first track from ‘For Ever’,  in the form of “Smile” definitely a bold choice to start with new flavours.

Jungle’s humble beginnings with founders Josh Lloyd-Watson & Tom McFarland beginning their journey writing together in a bedroom;  designing their sound, planning their rise and infusing elements of funk, soul and disco throughout their discography is something so many people strive for. When co-founder Josh looks out at the crowd and claims “This is our home town, we can’t believe the amount of you that are here”, you can’t help but smile and be pleased along with them that two friends from Shephard’s Bush can sell out Ally Pally with their own brand of soul, with an incredibly tight backing band and the coolest disco ball I’ve seen in a long time.

Jungle’s setlist on the night:

Heavy, California
The Heat
Happy Man
Beat 54 (All Good Now)
Lucky I Got What I Want
Lemonade Lake
House in L.A.

I took my fianceé along with me, who had no idea who Jungle are, she turned to me and said: “I like what they do, but everything sounds the same.” I looked at her in disbelief but after taking a brief moment I came to the realisation that’s exactly the reason why I’m a fan of this soul collective. Jungle have perfectly encaptured that feeling of  ’70s 12″ disco/soul/funk singles where the track lasts for 12 minutes. ‘For Ever’ & ‘Jungle’ as albums should be viewed as two huge songs in my opinion with each song representing an act getting you lost in the music while getting your emotions to rise and fall in time.

Encore ‘Busy Earnin” gained the largest reaction from the crowd as it’s Jungle’s most famous track, getting everyone dancing and reliving past summers in full force with ‘Time’ closing their set completely.  Josh, Tom & Co have truly created a very special show, that pays homage to the roots of their sound, a sound that definitely needs room to breathe beyond the 10K cap of Alexandra Palace. I look forward to seeing them in the field this summer.

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