As I walked into the Scala, the Kings Cross ex-cinema turned nightclub/ gig venue, I could smell and hear a happy buzz of the crowd, consisting of mostly fellow Australian’s there to support the latest hot property out of Sydney; Jagwar Ma. This spacious London venue has housed some greats, like Iggy Pop and Hawkwind, but on this warm Wednesday night Scala hosted the great (also sold-out) Aussie dance/indie/psychedelic trio Jagwar Ma. After tonight I can see why Noel Gallagher said that he is simply too busy talking about Jagwar Ma to reform Oasis!
DJ Richard Norris played in-between the acts, in an attempt to warm up the somewhat awkward London crowd with his dance and disco beats. As the music loving audience slowly filled the Scala, we were all ready and waiting to see the South African support band, John Wizards. The John Wizards were not only easy on the eyes, but they brought something unique for this London crowd, with their music falling back on their African musical roots, embedded with some Jazz and 80s disco. Confusing concoction? Yes- but weirdly wonderful. (To hear what I’m talking about, go to https://soundcloud.com/john-wizards).
After Richard Norris finished another DJ set, the crowd was warm and ready for our fashionably late entree de la journée- three very dishy and talented Sydney men. Synth wiz Jono Ma teased the crowd by taking to the stage first, and laying down a bass beat which ran through everyone’s dancing body. Soon followed by the extremely tall and happy-go-lucky bassist Jack Freeman, followed by the main vocalist Gabriel Winterfield. Although this band looks as though they are from the 90s through their fresh faces, and 90s inspired clothing, they harness their nostalgic sound to a time where 80s disco ruled, with some 60s psychedelia thrown in for good measure. Jagwar Ma started the night off with a bang, opening with their debut album Howlin’s first track, ‘What Love’. ‘What Love’ soon merged into a massive jumping-up-and-down fest (which enigmatic rocker bassist Jack initiated), with Mr Ma’s crazy drumbeats, deep house drops, bass riffs, and the trance and techno beats. The energy of the boys, their electronica psychedelic vibes and the intimacy of Scala perfectly meshed together to recreate (what I imagine) being at an underground Hendrix or Jefferson Airplane gig was like back in the day.
The chilled out lifestyle of Sydney oozes out of each Jagwar Ma member, and out of their unique modern music, with their dance synth beats, tribal beats, and spacy vocals of Jono Ma. As Jagwar Ma’s set continued, they continued to infect the crowd of their natural high through their positive aura embedded with songs like ‘Four’, ‘Man I Need’ (which cutie Gabriel dedicated to his mum who flew to London to see her rock star son play in London town), ‘Exercise’, and my personal faves ‘Uncertainty’ and ‘The Throw’. With each song, rhythm and beat came enthusiastic thrills from the crowd, always accompanied by hands in the air (especially to their hit songs ‘Come and Save Me’ and ‘Let Her Go’. Jagwar Ma connected with their audience, and I’m sure that next summer they will be gracing us with their presents on the main stages of Secret Garden Party, Glastonbury and Bestival.