There’s an enormous sense of anticipation at the Olympia as an audience awaits the London collective to take to the stage. A muffled kick drum pulsates through the dark auditorium while Jungle’s trademark twin keyboard workstations stand silhouetted against a dimly lit backdrop. All Tvvins have only finished moments before after providing a remarkably energetic support slot but now we wait for the band, fronted by Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson, that has gone from its conception to household name in the space of two short years.
The building beat is eventually cut short by a huge sub-bass drop that tickles the chest hairs as a neon logo flashes at the back of the stage and the band take up their positions. Joining the two founding members are a pair of backing singers on either extreme of the stage, a guitarist/bassist, a drummer and a percussionist. Straight away the faithfulness to the album recordings is evident: they hardly alter a note throughout ‘Platoon’ and, as they drop their best song ’Julia’ next, it’s pretty clear that this band are all about delivering the full package. There’s also a theatricality to their performance that pulls in impressive visual elements as well as a pristine sound. Sudden dynamic breaks in sound that return with an explosion of cymbals are carried off with aplomb and everyone on stage seems to be genuinely enthusiastic about this performance.
As a band with just one album to date we are treated to it in its entirety, with ‘The Heat’ and ‘Busy Earnin’’ providing sing along moments, along with an encore of ‘Time’. It’s pretty clear that Jungle bear the hallmarks of becoming a major festival headline act, but the fact that their debut album is comprised of a signature sound that rarely veers too far from a tried and tested formula may be their greatest obstacle. About two thirds of the way through tonight’s gig there is a discernible slump in energy being transmitted to the crowd, that is only clawed back by the synth brass hook of ‘Busy Earnin’’. If Jungle are going to pass the test of time they are surely going to need to come up with a new angle for their next album. Maybe a break from the duelling falsettos or some more daring melodic lines could shake things up. Let’s wait and see.