23rd October | Marble Factory

The Marble Factory was crammed to the doors fit to burst, it’s clear Bristol had a hunger for Jagwar Ma‘s live show. Fresh from releasing their sophomore effort Every Now and Then the three piece are in the prime place to debut new material to Bristol with a bustling crowd. Getting a shoe in through the masses I head to the front to get a better view among the shorter heads and succeed as they amble onstage 10 minutes late but the cheers make up for it.

They opted for a cluttered start with the clattering ‘What Love’, blended into ‘Don’t Make It Right’ making for a lukewarm beginning. It didn’t exactly thrill, the arrangements were sparse and it didn’t match with the whole sound you get on record. They drew out the trippy Every Now and Then as much as it would go until it grew tired. And while it seemed ‘Uncertainty’ kicked it up a notch with its squelchy synth blasts and surreal outer-space bleeps, it didn’t add anymore to what had already been heard.

‘OB1’ was the one hope that made a real difference, bringing a scattered singalong for their first single from the long awaited second album. Yet this shapeshifting stormer only just came close to reflecting their true potential, all bendy beats and jarring riffs. The Noel Gallagher approved ‘Man I Need’ was a welcome cut from ‘Howlin’ with its catchy chorus – if only we could hear it. The pivotal problem was that all the instruments overpowered the Jono Ma led vocal. ‘Exercise’ tried to encourage crowd engagement but only brought a few shouts of “EXERCISE!” – those who did waving like demented worms.

‘Come Save Me’ was another supposed turning point where things finally were salvaged with aplomb, an upbeat jaunty number that finally did justice to the band. That is until it morphed into a thumping EDM section that drowned out their standout track. It clearly can’t make amends for a shaky set that blurred together the best of what they can do into an easily lapped-up DJ-esque set that catered to the mass of inebriated 20-somethings trying to either out dance each other or fight each other.

While it was an intriguing listen, it just didn’t pack the punch you’d expect. There’s no change of direction throughout most of these songs, Jagwar Ma gently coasted through these ambient psych gems like a boat sailing through smooth waters. But that’s about it. If you were expecting more than a joint stoners’ serenade, you may be disappointed with the results.

Listen to ‘OB1’ below.