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‘He eagerly played the lead guitar whilst simultaneously thrashing a piano chord with his foot’ – A review of Jacob Collier’s Bristol concert

As part of the annual Bristol Sounds series of open-air concerts at Lloyds Amphitheatre, Jacob Collier, performed a stunning set which beautifully fused together elements of jazz, pop, rap, soul, and funk. Collier, a five-time Grammy Award winner has previously worked with major artists from pop and film music, including Coldplay, John Mayer, Pharrell Williams, and Hans Zimmer.

The evening began with support from Louis Cole, featuring eerie, electronic soundscapes. We eagerly anticipated for the arrival of Collier, and he truly knew how to showcase the ocean of his mesmerising musicianship when he ignited the stage with his energy. Barefooted and donning colourful patchwork trousers, Collier was in his absolute element. 

With at least 12 different musical instruments on stage, Collier tirelessly leapt from one instrument to another across the stage, cavorting and singing with childlike joy, supported by his brilliant band. The 90 min set was a heady concoction of Collier’s quintessential hits as well as covers of well-known classics. Traversing seamlessly through numerous genres, the crowd were catapulted from bluesy jazz to soulful ballads to playful funk. “With The Love In My Heart,” “Hideaway,” “Time Alone With You,” “All I Need,” “Sleeping On My Dreams” were met with deep roaring of excitement and enjoyment. A particular gem was his ethereal, acoustic guitar rendition of “The Sun Is In Your Eyes,” which delivered tremors through our hearts and took us all “by surprise.” 

One minute, he eagerly played the lead guitar whilst simultaneously thrashing a piano chord with his foot, before he swiftly switched to the humble tambourine. Another minute, he hurled a mallet at the gong with JC emblazoned on it, a trademark, quirky move that he often weaves into his concerts. 

Covers of “Somebody to Love” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love” allowed the audience to sing as part of his signature “audience choir.” Filling the Lloyds Amphitheatre, the audience’s sound built higher and louder as we harmonised together, with Collier orchestrating different sections of the audience to move up or down a note. The audience operated as a single instrument playing three-note harmonies, guided wholly by hand signals and body movements from the maestro. The angelic choral singing was highly atmospheric, a euphoric and deeply moving phenomenon that made this concert unique.

Throughout the evening, Collier’s vocal prowess was manifested through an immense vocal range and intricate harmonisation. By utilising looping and his one-of-a-kind harmonizer, built by MIT alum Ben Bloomberg, layer upon layer of Collier’s own vocals intertwined impeccably, culminating in a harmonic choir of his own.

Having bound off-stage after the sublime set as fresh as he had first emerged, Collier circled back on-stage in a kid’s toy car and treated us to an intimately stirring encore of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” When Collier was performing, we truly could not take our eyes or ears off him.

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