From groove-inducing gigs to tropic-inspired DJ sets, here’s why Jungle will always stick with me after my university years.
Despite taunting the world with a four-year gap between their first and second album, Jungle managed to keep fans hot on their toes and desperate for more funk-ridden tunes. I was at university during this period, and was blessed with the opportunity of seeing Tom McFarland, Josh Lloyd-Watson and co. three times. It may have been coincidence, but these three occasions happened to be at three of my favourite venues across Liverpool and Leeds (two of my favourite cities).
Esquire describes their style as “1970s funk” fuelled by tropical percussion, psychedelic washes and wildlife noises to name a few. Although this gives them an obvious style, there’s an clear distinction between their live performances and their DJ sets. While the former feels like a big-old party on stage, featuring a medley of singers and musicians, the latter is stripped down to just the two lead singers behind the decks. Their DJ sets showcase a different side to the pair’s creative talent using no vocals, apart from the odd tease of “Juliaaaa-aaah” midway though a mix.
My first two events were DJ sets. I knew they would be different to the full live band extravaganza, however they did not disappoint. The first was a headline slot for a Flux event at Beaver Works in Leeds. This was closely followed – mere days later – by an intimate DJ set at a bar called The Merchant in Liverpool.
To put things into perspective, Beaver Works is a huge Victorian warehouse with a capacity of approximately 2,000 people and is spread across five different rooms. This particular event was a minefield of disco-house legends like Young Marco and Leon Vynehall, which meant that Jungle’s set was blatantly different to the rest of the line-up.
By contrast, The Merchant is a quirky little bar with a DJ booth tucked into a corner of the room. This brought my friends and I the great honour of dancing next to the booth all night and later chatting with Tom and Josh themselves, followed by a couple of blurry photos to commemorate the occasion. It was a wholly different experience and just as enjoyable.
After basking in our newfound love for the band, my housemate and I became obsessed with rewatching their Glastonbury sets from 2015 and we were longing to see them in full force with the whole band. Two years later in our third year, Liverpool Music Week announced their line-up. The first act we spotted? Jungle (Live). Obviously tickets were purchased.
The gig came around surprisingly quickly, along with our impending third year responsibilities, and soon enough we were at the Invisible Wind Factory. This is another amazing venue just north of Liverpool City Centre and nestled by the waterfront. It’s been brought to life by the people behind The Kazmier, previously one of the city’s most famous independent venues. The decor takes its inspiration from the since-demolished venue – we’re talking strings of fairy lights and space-like objects floating from the ceiling.
As the stage went black and the gold lettering of ‘Jungle’ began to emerge, the beats began and the full band entered the stage. With them was Rudi Salmon, whose live vocals topped the experience. They belted out a mix of old favourites and soon-to-be-released tracks from their new album, keeping the crowd’s attention the entire time. It was one of the most uplifting atmospheres I’d experienced in a long time and I would wholly encourage anyone else to jump at the chance of experiencing their stage presence in the flesh, regardless of whether it’s a gig or a DJ set.