Making his debut in Birmingham under the Mr Jukes tag, Jack Steadman, frontman of indie legends Bombay Bicycle Club, brought his current funk and soul outfit to a packed out, hot and sweaty o2 Institute.
Embracing a new shaven headed look and armed full of confidence, it’s quite apt that the opening song tonight it the glorious ‘Somebody New’ from his incredibly funky debut album ‘God First’. This segues effortlessly in to a cover of ‘Fall in Love’ by Slum Village which sees the audience bopping away enjoying every moment.
The main body of the show features highlights from Mr Jukes’ debut including ‘From Golden Stars Comes Silver Dew’, ‘Magic’, ‘Ruby’ and ‘Leap of Faith’.
It’s strange having become so familiar with Bombay Bicycle Club to see Steadman without his traditional bandmates but flanked by a backing band made up of eight very talented musicians and singers. Where on record there are guest singers, the backing singers tonight compliment it well. Sounding similar to the recorded versions, but giving each track their own unique twist.
Prior to the final songs of the set, we are treated to two further bizarre, but brilliant covers. First up is ‘Strasbourg St Denis’ by Roy Hargrove which shows off Jack’s brilliant vocal range, followed immediately by a cover of ‘Doo-Wop (That Thing)’ from Lauryn Hill.
One noticeable thing about tonight is how confident and in his element Steadman is with this collaboration project. Happy to let the backing singers do their thing on lead vocals and stepping aside to show them off whilst he gets lost in his own melodies. It is equally as brilliant when he returns to the mic for lead vocal duties. Although a different project, because of his distinct vocal style, you cannot help but close your eyes and imagine these wild sounds being played across a fast field or a sweaty little bar by Bombay Bicycle Club.
Closing the main set tonight we are treated to a mash up of ‘Angels’ and ‘Your Love’ which work brilliantly together to create a brand new funk. Needless to say that the receptive audience are calling out for more as the band leave the stage.
Not one to disappoint his fans, Jack and Co. return and launch in to ‘Typhoon’ before the most poignant moment of the evening. Only a few days before tonight’s show we learned of the sad passing of soul legend Charles Bradley who had collaborated with Mr Jukes on the track ‘Grant Green’ which had also recently been released as a single. To close tonight’s show in full, Jack thanks us and dedicates this performance to his vocalist as the band play a moving and fitting tribute to Charles Bradley.
Although the indefinite hiatus of Bombay Bicycle Club is upon us, Mr Jukes is a brilliant stop gap and to see Steadman having this much fun in an intimate setting is a joy to behold. With the new festival season for 2018 currently being planned, it would be a tragedy not to include Mr Jukes on any lineup.