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Live: Jungle - The Deaf Institute, Manchester


After springing up out of nowhere towards the latter stage of last year amid an onslaught of blog-based attention, Jungle seem to have already cemented their position as a band intent on storming the pop charts.

What’s more, they’re managing to do it with a degree of credibility and, more importantly, authenticity. Despite only having a couple of singles behind them, they sold out Manchester’s Deaf Institute almost instantly – setting up a glorious return to the city that hosted the Londoners’ first ever gig.

It was a very different scene when they took to the stage at the more modest surroundings of the Roadhouse six months ago. Dark and dingy was the order of the day as Jungle attempted maintain their veil of anonymity in front of a crowd comprised of a select few who got wind of them early.

But unfortunately music of such an infectious nature, and the mainstream exposure that brings, makes it extremely difficult to properly keep up such a facade. The result is a satisfying one for Deaf Institute’s 260-strength crowd though.

The seven-piece band arrive on stage to rapturous applause from every corner and slide seamlessly from an safari-sampling intro to the neo-soul of breakthrough single ‘The Heat’.

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At a time when the pop charts are vomited on by some of the most mediocre, disingenuous and downright offensive electronic ‘music’ on a weekly basis, it is refreshing to see a new band who are using technology in the right way.

Rather than tickling the underdeveloped synapses of those who need nothing more than a clunky Logic Pro drop to declare themselves a fan, Jungle’s output is firmly based around organic songwriting – anchored by an arsenal of pop hooks, complemented by funk swagger and glistening electronic production.

The set is short and sweet on the night, with the band performing for little over half an hour – perhaps an indication that by rights most acts would not be commanding such a high profile headline tour without more material under their belts.

What they do showcase is largely flawless though. A more lo-fi moment is provided by ‘Drops’, a track that points towards a more layered sound, carving its identity through a pulsating groove as opposed to the instant gratification that comes from the hooks in singles like ‘Platoon’ and ‘Busy Earnin’’.

The band can simply be seen enjoying themselves more than was the case at the Roadhouse in October – not surprising given the greater familiarity they have gained with their audiences since their last visit.

Latest release ‘Busy Earnin’’ probably gets the biggest cheer of the night, presenting an undeniably danceable pop sound comparable to the likes of Metronomy, Broken Bells and, most starkly, Gorillaz.

When frontman ‘T’ (an abbreviation that will surely have to be expanded as Jungle continue to gather wider attention) lets the crowd know that ‘Platoon’ will bring proceedings to a close, the briefness of the set is striking, but luckily every second of it has been expertly played out.

Deaf Institute gains something of a rave atmosphere during the closer, combining funk, soul, disco and pop in a way that rarely works so well within the modern musical landscape.

One thing’s for sure, if Jungle are still beneath anyone’s radar, they won’t be there for much longer. Tonight’s performance has been a mesmerizing taster of a live show that will no doubt be encapsulating when they return album in tow.

Patrick Davies