Published Mar 04, 201624-year-old singer-songwriter and producer Jack Garratt is already well-known in the UK, but last night (March 3), even he seemed taken aback by the welcome he has received in North America: "Hey Toronto, you guys fucking sold this show out in, like, a second," he shouted with a smile on his face. Everyone in the audience seemed already to know every word from his debut album Phase, despite the fact that it was released just two weeks ago.
Garratt embraces the role of a solo artist at his shows; he recreates every element of his multi-layered songs onstage, fluidly, emerging from behind his machines that provide heavy synths, drum pad beats and looping enough to engage fully with the crowd. He started with the instrumental track "Synesthesia Pt. I," which flowed into his earlier release, "Water," then picked up his guitar for the first time, throwing himself into the song enough to make sure the audience knew they were in for a ride.
The UK artist puts more than energy into each song than is found even on his passionate new record, constantly shifting and dancing in his tight space to the beat, his scale-spanning voice deliver every emotion from the recordings with power and enthusiasm.
Rather than starting a party, the songs seemed to captivate the audience as Garratt entered an intense emotional zone, his eyes closed at times to channel the proper focus and intensity. It helped take the songs to a new level, and though it occasionally made for moments where he seemed to forget the audience, he made up for it with plenty of confident and cheerful banter in-between songs. Still coming to terms with the fact that everyone had already heard his album, he claimed the songs still felt like secrets to him, modestly stating, "It's just shitty little ideas in my head; it baffles me."
"Fire," one of the most booming songs he's put out, features a piano near the end, and as simple as you like, the multi-talented Garratt effortlessly turned to play the keys and looped it underneath his voice as he grabbed his stick for the drum machine. Eventually, things slowed down. "I do not have a more arrogant way to play it," Garratt admitted before beginning "Surprise Yourself," stepping away from his electronics to use just his falsetto and guitar for a mesmerizing, stripped-down performance.
It's one thing that Garratt plays every instrument on his recordings, but it's another entirely to actually experience this at one of his shows. He lays down everything he has, and his songs sound wildly enhanced onstage — a tough feat for any performer. It's not that he makes it look easy; rather, he makes it look like only someone with a passion as burning as his could make it possible.
Singer-songwriter Kacy Hill opened the night, and though she was playing her first shows ever on this tour, but one would hardly have known it: She performed a compelling set that prepared the crowd well for Garratt, pairing her delicate but dynamic voice with her sparse electronic sound. The pounding drums during her set gave her songs a fierceness that commanded the crowd's attention.