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Jungle – The Roundhouse, London 03/03/15

06 March 2015, 11:07 | Written by Jack Dutton

Jungle’s music is most suited to large venues. The atmospheric guitar, strong falsettos and reverberated percussion suit a big stage perfectly. It’s true that shows in smaller locations often work better, but it’s hard to imagine what Jungle’s music would sound like in a venue that houses only 100 people. How fortunate, then, that one of the loudest bands out there happened to playing in one of the only large venues in the UK that is still able to give you a sense of intimacy – the Camden Roundhouse.

The band’s production sounds reminiscent of South London hip hop group Stereo MCs, with its funk grooves, big horn synthesizers and Bee Gee-like vocals. With such a big sound, you wouldn’t expect the two people in the duo to keep such a low profile. The musicians that form Jungle don’t feature in any of their music videos; instead, breakdancing troupes are the stars. Having been touring relentlessly around the country, Jungle are now making a name for themselves as one of the acts, along with the likes of Jai Paul and Juce, pioneering a funk-pop revival.

Sirens went off before the emotive “Lucky I Got What I Want”, which sounded both bigger and more vulnerable live than on record. Tonight’s performance of the “The Heat” had denser, dreamier synths than usual, along with swelling organs and hummable bass lines.

Despite the strong start, the set wavered by the time the band got onto “Lemonade Lake”, one of the weaker tracks off their eponymous debut. For reasons unknown, there was no real momentum in the verses nor excitement projected in the chorus.

But Jungle more than made up for the shortcoming. Later on, we heard the familiar guitar melody of “Son of a Gun”, which successful lifted the somber mood of the last few tracks. The tender “Drops” showed a softer side to the band, with many of the instrumentalists taking a rest, letting the keyboard player and four vocalists do all of the work.

The unlikely star of the evening was the band's bongo player. Relentlessly pummeling the things, he added to rhythmic flavour to some of Jungle’s biggest anthems, most notably on the majestic “Busy Earnin’”. Jungle finished with the funk-infused “Time”, closing what was a confident and strong performance from a group who we can expect to be hearing of way beyond just their first album.

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