16th November | Rough Trade
Understanding the heart and mind of Jennifer Clarke is easier than you think. Sifting through her modest discography, she has grown into her own sound. Hazy and wistful R&B with surreal modern twists is her calling card, but JGrrey is not your average artist.
This isn’t just because she recently toured with one of the biggest pop stars in the world right now, the one and only Billie Eilish. Her incredible voice, occasional rap and nonchalant attitude are the three attributes that make her one to watch. Her first major flex on Rough Trade was the acrobatic vocal ability on ‘Pretty Insane’, where she cooed, “what would you do” in honeyed tones. She paused briefly greeting us with a cheery “Hi Bristol!”
Only a few songs in, she certainly wasn’t afraid to get candid. Before ‘My Car’, she informed the fans, “It’s about my ex boyfriend, who I fucking hate. Fuck that guy right?” With a loud roar of approval from the room, she launched into the torrid tale with a refreshing amount of honesty, backed by a dreamy melody.
She seemed genuinely taken aback, shaking her head during ‘Girls House’. The front row was singing back to her loudly and her stunned expression told you everything you needed to know. It’s a touching moment to see an artist so surprised at the audience reaction. “I think this has been the liveliest crowd so far!” she remarked upon finishing. The best part about Clarke is how humble she is. If any times she looked like she was struggling to hold it together, it was because of her adoring public, but it never affected her flawless performance.
Her recent single, ‘For Keeps’ garnered the most popular reaction. The 60s doo-wop swoon swept through the room like a sugar rush. Gaggles of girls were chanting the lyrics, raising their gins in celebration. Her confidence burst out of her during ‘Better Off’. “You’ve just fallen off; you look so good when you cry,” she sang swivelling her hips and wagging her finger. It was the ultimate kiss-off to an ex-lover and a perfect demonstration of being SO over him.
With a chest infection, Clarke needed something to keep her voice fresh. “Jamie, where’s Jamie? Could I get five whiskeys?” she inquired midway. The short wait for whiskey brought with it an unexpected turn. The hasty decision to bring a quick disco cover as the spirits were poured landed well. She freestyled, “where is my whiskey, when will I get my whiskey?” with surprising harmony when she got bored of the disco. Improvisation never sounded so good.
On ‘Fade Away’, the words “grey can’t fade, it cannot just fade away” had never meant so much. She delivered an organic and intimate show where you genuinely couldn’t tell who enjoyed it more, her or the crowd. The frenzied response to a gig that showcased her natural talent and playful personality saw her evolve from an earnest girl to a woman with a whole lot of swagger. Confusion, shock, excitement, laughter: it is just a small selection of the emotions that flickered across the fresh face of Jennifer Clarke this evening. JGrrey can’t fade away, she’s having too much fun.
See the video for ‘Dreaming Fool’ here: