Julia Jacklin takes her time getting to the hits, building the tension for her devoted fans, writes Harvey Rae.
The Rechabite Hall, 22 February 2023
“All these songs are so intense,” says Julia Jacklin at the second of two sold-out shows for Perth Festival. “It’s my fault,” she adds, and the room erupts into laughter.
After easing us gently into her set, the admission is a perfect ice-breaker. It’s been a slow start, but that’s entirely by design. Jacklin shows don’t come at you like a bull out of the gates, and she’s leaving out many of the crowd-pleasing rockers such as Coming of Age, Be Careful With Yourself and You Were Right that could serve to lift the energy of the room.
In their place are the beautiful Hay Plain and to Perth, before the border closes to start the set, while 2016 favourite Pool Party‘s Angel Olsen-esque alt-country hardly alters the relaxed mood. Only Love, Try Not to Let Go, the first track lifted from last year’s world-beating PRE PLEASURE, delivers any intensity early on. But even its unexpectedly noisy chorus isn’t amplified by strobe lights or wild flights of fancy.
The tension is intentional. Jacklin’s best song Body arrives similarly early and the simmering sarcasm as she sings Do you still have that photograph?/ Would you use it to hurt me?/ Well, l guess it’s just my life/ And it’s just my body is quietly chanted back at her by the young women in the audience who know its meaning all too well; the song’s minimalism echoed by its introspective audience participation.
Turn Me Down is the unexpected highlight. Finding new meaning live, it rises on the back of a huge emotional crescendo as Jacklin’s signature restraint finally gives way to a helpless cry: Why won’t you turn me down?/ Please just turn me down.
Jacklin clearly knows its power because the moment signals a turning point in proceedings as the hits start flowing and the energy rises. Lydia Wears a Cross and Head Alone provide the singalongs, while I Was Neon and Pressure to Party finally kick out the jams, and the crowd rocks out in response.
Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You is clearly a favourite and features some wonderful shredding, care of Canadian lead guitarist Will Kidman. He’s not the only international guest on stage, with impressive support act Mimi Gilbert proving an excellent bassist, complementing the deft guitar work of her solo, emo-folk set (check out Taught to Build Walls).
As the band leaves the stage, Jacklin sticks around before dryly saying, “This is the encore, I don’t walk off stage.” Closing the night as gently as it began, Don’t Let the Kids Win is a perfect coda. Not that it’s all been perfect, but her fans couldn’t have asked for more.
Pictured top: Julia Jacklin finishes her show at the Rechabite as gently as she began. Photo: Sophie Minissale
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