As clichéd as it is to say, Don’t Let The Kids Win, by Australian musician Julia Jacklin, was one of the most accurate coming of age albums released last year. Since the record came out Jacklin has been touring steadily around Australia and Europe, returning regularly to Ireland. She played at Electric Picnic in September as well as a solo headline show in Dublin’s Grand Social only last November. Her music is punchy, guitar laden and generated by lyrics about wanting your brother to think you’re cool and fumbling through small talk at a bar with the wrong suitor.
A later than anticipated arrival to the stage is easily forgotten as the band (all of whom are in their early twenties and look like a really fun collection of characters) immediately settle into an impassioned rendition of ‘Hay Plain’. It’s a strong introduction to those who have not seen Julia and her band perform live on previous occasions, and for those that have it reinstates how excellent she is as a performer, songwriter and musician.
For the majority of the show there’s little chat from Jacklin to the crowd. This may be because of the one overly inebriated guy in the crowd that yelps and claps (out of time), much to the annoyance of everyone present. When Jacklin does interact with the crowd she’s charming and well received by the audience. There’s a collective feeling amongst everyone that they’d love to be pals with her. The “chill part of the set”, as Jacklin calls it, continues with ‘Leadlight’, ‘Motherland’ and new song, ‘Cold Colour.’ This sombre beginning ends with Julia alone on stage singing ‘L.A. Dream.’ With just an electric guitar and her amazing vocal this is easily the most memorable and defining song of the set, showcasing Jacklin’s natural ease in her performative style.
The crammed together crowd are captivated throughout the gig, and looking around there’s no denying that Jacklin has a devoted fanbase in Ireland. There’s something about 1990s and early 2000s musical nostalgia that captivates Irish audiences and Jacklin fits that genre perfectly, especially when she introduces a new song inspired by Australian national treasure, Steve Irwin. The crowd go wild with the reference. The musicianship and the relationship amongst the band is extremely tight from start to finish, they play without fault or any signs of fatigue. From the moment they took to the stage it felt like a group of friends playing songs that they really love and feel connected to, which is a feat considering that they have been on tour constantly over the last few months.
The final segment of the show kicks off with an energetic rendition of ‘Coming of Age’, and excitement grows with the opening chords of ‘Pool Party’ before the final song of the evening, ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’ sees the crowd sing along with Julia. How else would you expect a perfectly lovely evening of music by Julia Jacklin to end other than with a cover of The Strokes’ ‘Sometimes.’ You couldn’t ask for anything better, really.