Julia Jacklin | Live Review
Photography: Kim Phan | @averagecabbage.mp3
Julia Jacklin played a sold-out show at Metro Theatre this Friday 17 March, supported by powerhouses Annie Hamilton and Olympia. With the release of Jacklin’s second full-length album, Crushing, earlier in the year, 2019 promises to be a big one for this singer/songwriter.
The unmatchable Annie Hamilton met early-comers to the Metro Theatre. Despite newly forging her solo career, Hamilton delighted with beautiful lyricism and a mature sound to a receptive crowd. She finished her tight 20 minutes with the haunting and fragile ‘Fade’. This year will bring great things for Hamilton if this appearance is anything to go by.
Next up, the slick guitar and polished vocals of Olympia provided a nice boogie break. Her soaring voice barely needed the microphone as she treated the crowd to songs mostly off her Self Talk record, plus a couple newbies. As a tribute to the female talent of the night, Olympia dedicated her set to the “amazing women I know. Hopefully you know some too.” She commanded the room and finished her half hour with raucous applause.
Julia Jacklin’s new record, Crushing, is a heart-wrenching breakup album, slower and more suited to swaying than bopping. Despite this, an unlikely sports chant welcomed her to the stage at Metro Theatre: “When I say Julia you say Jacklin!” She wasted no time finding her place centre-stage, strapping on a guitar with two strips of masking tape on the front, one reading “Julia’s guitar”, the other, “you got this!” Not breaking their stride, the band launched straight into ‘Body’, the chilling opening track of Crushing. Immediately, the audience was captured. They continued to entrance with ‘Eastwick’, then brought the energy up with faster paced ‘Leadlight’ from Don’t Let the Kids Win.
Hazy and dreamy, Jacklin created an atmosphere of introspection, unselfconscious in its sensitivity. ‘Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You’ encapsulated this entire mood perfectly, feeling intensely personal. Unafraid to let the audience sit in silence, tracks like ‘Turn Me Down’ and ‘When the Family Flies In’ were intimate and understated, accompanied sparingly.
Jacklin’s classical training was clear in the quieter moments. Hands on abdomen and a demure look up to the left, she evoked the image of a biblical figure. This was only enhanced by the Metro’s impressive light design and smoke show, spotlighting the singer’s ability to hold her own, static at centre-stage.
It was refreshing to hear the titular track from Don’t Let the Kids Win, pared down to a slightly slower pace than the recorded version, showcasing the emotion of the lyrics and the power of the vocals. Marking a turning point in the show, ‘You Were Right’ rallied the crowd to dance, and a couple songs later, the show was finished with fan favourite single ‘Pressure to Party’.
The encore was a masterful jab and cross beginning with the heartbreakingly nostalgic ‘Comfort’, which Jacklin performed alone. Returning to the debut album, the band returned to stage for ‘Hay Plain’, an incredibly bittersweet closer considering the hindsight of the song’s lyrics: “wondering if my new man is in love with me yet”. By the time the band waved their final goodbyes, the crowd was utterly wooed.
The album’s recurring lyrics about reclaiming body and space, as well as the lack of desire to be touched, became particularly apt in such a packed venue. And to their credit, the audience seemed incredibly receptive, captivated by Jacklin’s candour and vulnerability. Particularly notable was the lack of photography and video recording among the crowd. Everyone seemed to just want to be there, in the hypnotic space that Jacklin and her band created. Not long ago, Jacklin was playing much smaller shows to much smaller audiences, but with the release of Crushing, she has come into her own and completely commanded the stage at Metro Theatre.