If you had to pick the perfect circumstances for a Jagwar Ma gig, you’d likely go for a sunny night in May ans that’s exactly what Digbeth’s Birmingham Institute got.
The downside to that is when London-based Soul songstress MOKO enters the stage as tonight’s support act there is still daylight seeping into the venue through the plethora of doorways that make up the library room. The result of this is a room full of people a bit befuzzled by the presence of natural sunlight and MOKO’s first task is to get people into a musical mind-set. She passes. She is also so polite that there are moments where I feel I’m accidentally watching a gig in her living room uninvited but she’s just too well-mannered to ask me to leave. Most importantly the support act is loud, which in preparation for Jagwar Ma is definitely necessary.
The Australian trio blast the audience with a tirade of electronic savagery and rhythm for a good couple of minutes before exploding into ‘Uncertainty’. Dancing and obscurely moshing ensues. And if the rhythm wasn’t already enough to get people moving the colossal sub-bass had enough power to send people skittling across the floor.
Their set tonight is put together as more-or-less one big mix, and their combination of electronics and live instrumentation bring almost no silence and standing about. So as the band finish playing ‘Come Save Me’ there is barely time for frontman Gabriel Winterfield to say he’s loving the moshing before album instrumental Four (now amped up to 11) sends everyone into two-step carnage once again and a small group of youths nearly windmill themselves into an aneurysm.
Jagwar Ma’s debut album Howlin’ is a solid record highlighting influences from Baggy and Madchester to no-holes-barred rave but their live show is a step-by-step guide to having a good time.