Julia Jacklin

Julia Jacklin


Championed by BBC 6 Music and just this week announced on the bill to support Belle and Sebastian in Glasgow as part of the 6 Music Festival next month, Julia Jacklin is an artist going places. Tonight, she plays a sell-out gig at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen, touring her debut album Don’t Let the Kids Win, which came out on Transgressive Records in October last year and was well received both by fans and critics.

First on is support act Keto from Nottingham who is joining Julia Jacklin on several shows in the tour. Her style of alt-folk has been likened to Cat Power and Elliott Smith but tonight it feels more reminiscent of old Shirley Collins songs, especially so on tracks played acoustically like her new single ‘Superstar’. She swaps the acoustic for electric and by now the Soup Kitchen is starting to fill up. Even so, the whole crowd is transfixed on Keto. “God you’re so nice and quiet, it’s a little off putting” she tells the crowd, that would be a theme for the night.

Ten to nine and Julia Jacklin comes on early to the delicate ‘Hay Plain’, and before long is into ‘Leadlight’. It’s obvious there are some devoted fans in the crowd. Some were singing along to all the words, not just to ‘Leadlight’, but the entire set. “No one ever sings along to that one. It was nice”, Jacklin exclaims – she’s clearly appreciative of the support she is getting.

Back when Julia Jacklin supported Whitney at Gorilla last November, there were complaints that people were talking over her set. That’s certainly not the case at her headline show tonight though, as the serious crowd digest her wonderful debut Don’t Let The Kids Win. Soup Kitchen is peaceful, except for the intermittent use of the overly loud hand dryer in the toilets. It’s probably the quietest crowd I’ve ever been in, so much so I’m making sure my phone is switched to silent and am even whispering my drinks order at the bar. The old gig review cliché of being able to hear a pin drop really is the only fitting description of the scene.

For parts of the set Jacklin was left alone with her just her Telecaster to play the slower songs like ‘LA Dream’ and ‘Sweet Step’. With her eyes shut for a large majority of the performance and especially when she was without her band, it feels at times the crowd are being allowed to witness a personal, private show from Jacklin. When the band are on they are tight and restrained in a good way, nothing too heavy or loud but just enough to get the whole crowd inadvertently nodding and swaying along. At times the drummer barely plays and Jacklin’s guitar is virtually inaudible. Her voice is a constant though and truly great.

The last three songs of the set are the singles from the album – ‘Coming of Age’, ‘Pool Party’ and finally title track ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’, three songs which are very different but excellent in their own way. A personal favourite is the last, but ‘Pool Party’ goes down best.

She encores with a swooning cover of ‘Someday’ by The Strokes (which you can watch when she performed it in a session for the Triple J Like a Version series) and Soup is again transformed into a mass singalong. A popular choice with the folk of Manchester.

It’d be easy to say that Julia Jacklin is riding a current wave of alt-country singers like Angel Olsen and Julie Byrne, but that’s not the case. Her debut album and live performances set her apart.

After the gig I spoke to some of the band who were telling us how they always love visiting Manchester. They had no idea what city they were going to next or where they’d just come from, it sounds like Julia & co. are having fun on tour and it’s certainly infectious.

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James Power

When resisting the urge to put on the new Radiohead album for the one-billionth time, I try to keep my music listening as eclectic as possible.I was the clichéd skinny jeans & Strokes t-shirt clad indie kid in school clad and have never really grown out of that. Since starting university in 2012 I’ve got into lots of electronic, house, techno music and finding it very addicting. Favourites include Jon Hopkins, Todd Terje and Nicolas Jaar. Very recently I’ve been getting into old shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine, Ride & The Jesus and Mary Chain. I’ll have probably found something new by next week. Anything Thom Yorke puts his name to is one constant though.I’m a lover of CDs (probably because as a student I can’t quite afford vinyl) and my 250+ strong collection seems to be growing exponentially. If we discussed the pros and cons of physical music compared to streaming and how we consume music today, I could bore you for hours.Soup Kitchen is my spiritual home.I’ve pledged to take a review a month of an artist that I know nothing about, so sometimes I might sound like an idiot.