– GORILLA, MANCHESTER –
Aussie psych-poppers-cum-Maaadchester students Jagwar Ma return to Manchester to a rapturous crowd, a sold-out crowd in fact. The parallels that are made between them and The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays etc… are always talked about – songs like ‘Exercise’ with its bassy groove could easily be put on The Second Coming. The synth layered brooder ‘What Love’ could also have found its way onto Screamadelica. I will say, though, it does make me think as an early thirty-something who missed that era; is this a glimpse of what it was like watching the Maaadchester scene back in the day; Young lads doing poppers and football chanting “JAG-WA-MA, JAG-WA-MA, JAG-WA-MA!” thankfully there are no bucket hats in sight. The same group of youths would eventually be crowd surfing at the end of the night – I think they’re just up for the gig to be honest – One of the crowd surfers still manages to have his phone out recording his experience – The epitome of the millennial, why not just strap a Go-Pro to your head and record the whole gig? I’m just planting seeds now…
The live shows are where Jagwar Ma really come into their own, differing from The Stone Roses in assertiveness and presence. Masterminded by Jona Ma, on the throne, at the back of the stage he orchestrates extended breakdowns and weird ambient intros to the songs whilst at the front, lead singer and guitarist Gabriel Winterfield (No, he’s not a Game of Thrones character) relentlessly jumps with the crowd during every chorus. The up-tempo grooves are constant and cohesive throughout the set, the only lull is when they perform three new songs in a row and the balance is slightly tipped. It strangely works as a moment for one to catch their breath, but to appreciate the new tunes – the first since their debut album Howlin’ back in 2013. On an initial listen they do sound like much of the same, perhaps a bit more of a plodding groove than the usual intense acid house sound. There is a breakdown guitar riff in one of the new tracks that could be plucked straight from the Britpop era, which could suggest that Jagwar Ma are still in love with the nineties on the new record.
One of the biggest cheers of the night bizarrely comes when Winterfield announces “The last time we were in Manchester we were supporting Tame Impala”. This, to me, shows that Australia’s tastes for the psychedelic, along with bands like Pond, are making waves on British shores. “Baggy revival” or not, Jagwar Ma are reminding us about everything that was exciting about that time.