Well, that was fun. Having just been exposed to the artist via new recordings and Youtube, I was expecting something Mumfordian, with their tweedy Transatlanticism replaced by some fresher African harmonies. But, a man of the over-appropriate surname, Loops is more the Good-time Charlie! Just one who's riding a wave of popularity, which has been generated by his upbeat personality, stylistic mash-ups & straight-to-the-point songs. This one to cheer you up ('See I Wrote it For You'), this one the heartbreak song - though even the latter sounded energetic .
Incorporating rap and a really impressive folk-hip-hop number ('Down South', about his native South Africa) is what I most appreciate. There's definitely lots of loop pedal goofing around too, and though there's little I haven't seen Sheeran or Newton Faulkner (or Foy Vance before them both) pull off, it may never've been done with such gleeful abandon.
Some of this is down to the banterous 'team' vibe - great musicians who somehow manage to keep in time with those fallibly recorded sonic units, and who rock out/jazz out/rap out when bidden. J-Loops was accompanied by fellow descriptively named Mr Sakitumi on bass/drums (say it out loud), Motheo Moleko bringing bars and hype (which meshed surprisingly well with a harmonica-led hoedown), and James Faull the sax guy, who became a horn section at one glorious moment. The crowd also helped: Loops had succumbed to the common cold this morning, so benefited from extra buoying by appreciative fans.
The fans were many, and far more than I expected! Loops is crossing Europe on a tour & selling out venues all over the UK, and I have to say I felt I was raising the average age by my attendance, being surrounded by even-more-youthful faces. So the Bully was fully unruly, without an inch to spare. When he got round to recording the entire audience's voices to incorporate into a song, we found that we'd mustered quite a roar.
So there was great levity, an enthusiastic and warm stage presence apart from a moment of lads-on-tour wisecrack and a bald reference to 'breaking that market'... Support Hannah Trigwell brought laidback confidence, a voice that moved from Nerina Pallot low-end to will-o-the-wisp in the upper register, and a well advised Bieber cover (because everyone is now allowed to like Bieber). Trivia time: this fine Northern soul has a number one single in Vietnam.
However. Jeremy's vocal tone I don't really love, and there may be real experience in the songs & vulnerability in how transparent they can be, but the songcraft can seem a little lightweight on repeated listens. Such frenzy-whipping arrangements as Oxford enjoyed tonight can render this point irrelevant, though. His album Trading Change is released in the UK later this month, but this is one to be caught live if you ever can!