Jax Jones House Work tour at Gorilla Manchester review
Helen Giles saw the producer mastermind in action as part of his headline tour.
Last updated: 30th May 2017. Originally published: 25th May 2017
Image credit: Jack Kirwin
It’s been a crazy few years for London-based producer and musician Jax Jones. Beginning his journey working with Duke Dumont on chart-topper ‘I Got U’ in 2014, which he co-wrote and co-produced, he then continued his collaborative work with the house music icon on ‘Won’t Look Back’ and ‘Ocean Drive’ before taking the music industry by storm in 2016 with his own contributions to the dance music industry under the Polydor label.
The first of many productions ‘House Work’ received huge radio support, which continued when ‘You Don’t Know Me’ was released, going platinum in the UK, Australia, Ireland and Belgium making it one of the biggest dance releases of 2017.
With this huge commercial success, it was only a matter of time before the artist took his talent on tour. Already receiving huge praise with a series of shows in the US, Jax Jones came home to his fans to embark on a number of dates across the UK, including a visit to Gorilla in Manchester with promoters Pier Jam.
Even prior to the event there was the impression that something big was being organised, with promoters pushing back the entry time to 11.30pm due to the scale of the production and staging that was accompanying the superstar, which had to be extended further leaving disgruntled fans waiting outside in the cold. Nevertheless, spirits were still high as everyone waited patiently, excited to see what was in store.
Kideko welcomed the audience into the main room of Gorilla with his contemporary song selection mixed in with some club classics, including Sean Paul’s ‘Temperature’ and Disciples’ latest floor-filler ‘On My Mind’, that had everyone moving and singing along, getting them in the mood for a night of dancing and fun. The Brighton-based DJ ticked every box when it came to constructing an introductory set, dropping tunes that everyone could appreciate without being too overpowering with fast tempos or huge drops. It was a subtle yet effective build up to the set of the night.
As Jax Jones’ set drew closer, a number of unidentified inflatable objects starting bounding over the crowd. Beach balls, bananas, and even mobile phones flew across the room, with the audience all clambering over each other in the confined space trying to grab the objects. This was all part of the interactive nature of the show, and created a much needed buzz across the venue as people were beginning to get restless at the absence of the main man.
But it wasn’t long before he finally arrived, bringing with him every inch of enthusiasm that could be mustered. The audience went wild as they heard the makings of a mash up between radio favourite ‘House Work’ and commercial success ‘You Don’t Know Me’, finally mixed with Alison Limerick’s ‘Where Love Lives’ that added an air of nostalgia. The creativity of the mixing in this introduction alone was mesmerising, displaying the advanced technical abilities of a producer who has a natural flair for electronic music performance.
As the performance grew in complexity, with live mash up after live mash up incorporating Jones’ signature house beat amongst the sounds of 90s club classics, on an impressive electronic set up, a number of flamboyant dancers stormed the stage dressed as an array of food items and condiments, keeping the energy and fun vibes flowing through the room with the use of confetti cannons, wads of Jax Jones currency and sharing out the vodka supply to the front row.
With the performance in full flow, Jones carefully blended in even more timeless classics, including Blackbox’s ‘Ride on Time’ and house master Armand Van Helden’s ‘You Don’t Know Me’ with more commercial and contemporary house music, that was done in such a way you would think that they were his own productions. Managing to sneak in a section of Gala’s ‘Freed from Desire’, the dancers saw an opportunity to invite the loyal audience onto the stage to immerse in the atmosphere from up high.
As the performance drew to a close, the mood turned slight sombre and reflective, and the emphasis on live electronic performance became the focus. Jax Jones’ showed the extent of his talent through live looping and his musicianship, even getting the bass guitar out for a live looping session of his most successful hit ‘You Don’t Know Me’.
The final song of the night, and it’s immense build up brought tears to the eyes of many, hoping that there would be one more song from the artist, but as Four Tet’s remix of ‘Opus’ came to a close it was up to the final DJs of the night to wrap up what had been an evening of pure fun, promoting a carefree attitude through good music and enthusiastic performers.
Jax Jones’ talent really shows no bounds, with his abilities in live mixing, sampling, and musicianship advancing with every show and new production, he is making his way to the forefront of the music industry, pioneering the next wave of live dance music performance with a huge following of supporters at his side.
The way the whole show was centred around the fans with the elements of audience participation, the visuals and props and the enjoyment that exuded from the artist himself, felt like his way of giving something back to those that have supported him on his journey to fame. This is hopefully the start of a revolutionary change in electronic music performance, and anyone with even the slightest interest in how digital technologies can be incorporated into a live performance will want to see what he is capable of and what the future holds for dance music.