Having only known Jungle for two weeks, Graham Smillie takes a chance and catches them at the Invisible Wind Factory. Do they convert a new fan?

Formed in Shepherd’s Bush 2013 by Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson, Jungle has developed as a collective of musicians and artists across various disciplines to present a cohesive vision of, not just their music, but of video production, artwork and live performance.

The live sound has been described as “midtempo 1970s style funk” and at Invisible Wind Factory last night I could see where that came from. All of British Soul music from the 70’s onwards is here, but that’s not to say that this is a soul tribute through the years.

Jungle live is a joyful blast of modern, vibrant soul and funk. They wear their influences high on their sleeves, but absolutely bring the music to the modern era. Fabulous tunes performed with energy and class.

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I was asked by a young man halfway through the show if I was a fan. I admitted I’d heard nothing of Jungle just two weeks earlier. Despite this, some of the tunes felt familiar as the show wore on,  such have they become an unexpected fabric of British popular culture over the last couple of years. Even when I returned home and switched the TV on, there they were soundtracking a British Gas advert.

A near capacity Invisible Wind Factory (a perfect venue for the band) were entirely engaged in the party atmosphere, with the crowd are dancing from start to finish.

Early single The Heat raises the intensity in a well-paced set which climaxes with the excellent Busy Earnin’.

There is a bona fide scouser in the line-up too; backing vocalist and dancer Andro. There is no question that he pulls focus. Dressed flamboyantly and with agile movements putting the dancers on the floor to shame.

I ask myself the question again, “Are you a fan?” I am now!

To begin the evening, we were treated to a fine set by electronic duo Makeness. Their upbeat, fast-paced, mainly instrumental tunes got the night off to a great start. I could imagine their tunes as a brilliant soundtrack to an action packed European road movie.

Local favourites Stealing Sheep filled the gap superbly between Makeness and Jungle. They have always been an impressive group, and this writer has been a fan since catching them in the Kazimier Garden three years ago.

Tonight they seemed to be heading in a slightly darker direction, indeed the normally dayglo Lycra outfits have been replaced by all black, but a set of mixed oldies like So Real and a smattering of the new tunes from the eagerly awaited new album (due early 2018), put us firmly in a happy space and I might even have gone home satisfied then.

Pictures by Brian Sayle

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