Nine pretty much on the dot Julia Jacklin and her band strode out onto the smallish stage at Maze in Kreuzberg, Berlin. She smiled and nodded at the audience and picked up her telecaster, slung tight around her neck, and proceeded to play, the band standing back to let her start things by herself.
Having checked her out on youtube she did what I expected – sang with a sorrowfully soulful voice and a heavily reverbed guitar, drawing us into her spell. That was the first verse: As the chords changed the band came in with a crash and bang and made the whole thing bigger.
Not only slow moody elements
The two things I hadn’t expected from having watched Julia Jacklin on youtube was that she’d be funny, with a good line of between-song patter, and that the music would contain not only slow moody elements but would also pick up the tempo every now and then. The band would also help, complementing her extremely well. She’d gone to school with the drummer (possibly the others too) and it was easy to hear that she’d spent long years working with him, mainly through the perfectly pitched and perfectly placed harmonies that he contributed. Julia also mentioned that the previous night (or week?) he’d been backing her up on guitar.
Julia joked that we were lucky to witness the first gig where he had a whole pedal board to mess around with
The lead guitarist’s contributions were also very tastefully placed and carefully thought out; nothing was too much, and the whole was definitely not too little. Julia joked that we were lucky to witness the first gig where he had a whole pedal board to mess around with – before that he’d been using a little electronics box that he’d “got for his 14th birthday”. (“13th actually,” he corrected).
The only member of the band not to have played on the album was the bass player. He was also my favourite member of the band. I’m going to start keeping a list of bass players who aren’t boring on stage. Since you just get too many bass players that just, like, stand there and play. Not this boy, oh no. Tall and angular with a side swish of hair hanging down over his face, he moved to the music like no one’s business, moving with, behind and to the beat: and I bet the ladies love him, good looking young lad that he is.
I expected Julia’s singing to blow us away, and that’s exactly what it did
I expected Julia’s singing to blow us away, and that’s exactly what it did. She’s one of those singers who seem have a well inside them that they simply close their eyes and draw from. One of those singers who can tap straight into an ancient vein of something extraordinary, a pain that you can’t possibly have felt and embodied by her age.
When I first heard Julia Jacklin I was convinced that I was witnessing someone who was about to be very, very big. Seeing her live in the Maze only confirmed that.
She closed the concert, once more solo, her voice aching and longing
Julia finished the set with a song she said she’d written to “someone’s cousin, a long time ago – and the cousin is here tonight. I’ll leave you to figure out who it is.” Then she closed the concert, once more solo, her voice aching and longing. It was a love song. I wonder who the cousin was.
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.