Mr Jukes


Concorde 2, Brighton, September 18

YOU couldn’t accuse Bombay Bicycle Club of flying under the radar – from the tender age of 15, the precocious indie band have been headlining festival main-stages and scoring number one albums.

But their heyday coincided with a period of terminal decline for the Great British indie-rock band and they didn’t always get the critical love they deserved, despite singer-songwriter Jack Steadman always being musically well ahead of his flat-footed peers.

Known for his tender folky arrangements and euphoric sunbathed hooks, follow-up project Mr Jukes is a collaborative vehicle for Steadman to explore his love of jazz, funk and soul.

Born again as a roll-necked, Bic-headed jazz-bass impresario, he has assembled a white-hot session band who set the bluesy tone for Mr Jukes’ debut album Only God and this Concorde 2 show, the first date of a UK And European tour.

The style shift has given the slender frontman a new lease of life, beaming at the sleek, sample-centric sound of his passion project coming to life.

A trio of backing singers make more than capable stand-ins for Steadman’s big-name studio guests: Davide Shorty is virtually indistinguishable from Charles Bradley in the epic Grant Green; while Frida Touray shows up Lauryn Hill with a seriously confident take on Doo Woop (That Thing).

Samples of Argentinian jazz icon Jorge Lopez Ruiz aside, the notion of 20-somethings whooping to an extended baritone sax solo might have seemed a little too Mighty Boosh to be true a few years back, and perhaps we have the Howard Moon factor to thank for taking jazz full circle and making naff cool again.

But you have to give credit to the still only 27-year-old Steadman for getting the kids back down with jazz and it still feels he is taking original Bombay Bicycle Club fans on a musical journey 12 years on.

There’s a slight reticence in the crowd when asked to sing a closing coda of Only God and it occurs that Steadman might be asking a little too much of his flock – but the mood is predominantly adulatory to Jukes’ jubilant sounds, even the album’s more forgettable moments lifted out from their meandering.

Finn Scott-Delany