“We did our first live show in Manchester,” beams Jungle’s Josh Lloyd-Watson mid-set, with evident pride. And tonight they’re back, bringing the urban beat to the urbane heart of Manchester, organic beats emerging from our concrete jungle.

Together with childhood friend, school pal and one-time next-door neighbour Tom McFarland, the duo formed in West London, moving through a variety of guises before settling on the outfit that’s now Jungle in 2013. The aim was to stay relatively anonymous and they managed that pretty conclusively. Despite being a massive fan of their 2014 eponymous debut album, the cover is simply their logo, and perhaps being swayed by the elderly black and white guys elegantly dancing their way through the video for the track ‘Time’, and the anonymous falsetto with which they sing, until they stepped onto the stage I had no idea whether the band were black or white, so utterly groovy is their warm, crafted, inner city 70s soul. But as Brother Michael Jackson once preached, that never mattered anyway. Unless, of course, you’re Michael Jackson.

So Jungle take to the stage and open with ‘Smile’, and the crowd are doing pretty much that, only moments later. And the Ritz is packed tonight. Boys climb on the shoulders of other boys to carve shapes with their arms; diminutive blonde bombshells find spaces in which to groove, like children hiding amongst adults on rush-hour tube trains. Me, I found the perfect nook – next to the bar, next to a ledge, impossible to get nudged, great view of the stage – and it was there that I let the music wash over me, like fresh waves of funk cresting a beach.

There are certainly nods to the 70’s here – falsetto tonsils ringing like the Chorlton Brothers Gibb – as well as bands like The Brand New Heavies and even more modern organic dance outfits like The Egg. Indeed the music touches on soul, house, funk and all points in between. Tracks follow from that first album, a real constant player at my place, and nominated for the 2014 Mercury Music Prize – ‘Julia’, ‘The Heat, ‘Lemonade Lake’, ‘Drops’, alongside the new single ‘Happy Man’ released earlier in the week. Each track sends the crowd into raptures of retrosexual expression.

Rather than hitting the space bar on a MacBook and stepping back to check Facebook for messages, for this tour the friends are joined by a full band, their numbers swelling to seven, flanked by two fabulous backing singers, and at the back a solid groove laid down over which the duo out front play keys, programme, sing and play guitar.

What it great about tonight is the unity – band and audience united in a shared quest for fun and good vibes. When Jungle leave the stage after ‘Busy Earnin’ there’s no chance Manchester is done with them. And sure enough they return to play the track that I love the most – ‘Time’ – as encore. Check the video – black or white, young or old…. there ain’t no escaping that bass-driven groove.

Those grooves still running through my veins as I decant, with friends, to a nearby hostelry to water them down with fine whisky. The conversation is unanimous. Jungle are the real deal. Having previously performed at Glastonbury, and Reading & Leeds, expect to see them again over the summer. There is this new single but no sense of a new long player for long summer to come. But the first album will do for now. Perfect summer sunshine for the soul.

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Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…