Review: Mr Jukes and Barney Artist at Thekla in Bristol – Robin Murray


When Bombay Bicycle Club burst onto the scene in 2005 and quickly established themselves as one of the UK’s most popular indie bands, it would have been hard to imagine frontman Jack Steadman teaming up with a rapper who merges hip hop and jazz.

It sounds like a weird pairing on paper, but anyone who has listened the locket by Mr Jukes – the alias of the spin-off solo project from Steadman – and Barney Artist, will tell you it works.

Weeks before the collaborative album’s August launch, Barney Artist said the project was “good vibes with a meaningful message” – and that also sums up perfectly tonight’s performance at sold-out Thekla.

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After an impressive warm-up set from young MC Manik and a mix of classic hip hop tracks from DJ Chux, who is on scratch duty for the night, the atmosphere couldn’t be further from your typical sleepy Sunday night. as the friendly duo of Bombay Bicycle Club singer and enigmatic rapper take the stage.

The latter is almost reduced to tears from the start as the crowd shows their appreciation after the first set, the locket. “I can’t cry, I’m a rapper,” he jokes, dabbing his eyes with his sleeve. Steadman, who works on bass, first unleashes his instantly recognizable voice on Poems, at which point Barney yells at him “you are a hot sexy beast”, which brings a smile to the musical maestro in glasses and a lot of belly chuckles in front of them.

But the laughter is then replaced with raw emotion and reflection as the lights go down and the MC looks back at the challenges of the past two years, dedicating the tinged gospel. Leaving us in the light to those who lost their lives to the pandemic. It’s a poignant moment that ends with the couple’s embrace on stage. “That one got me,” Barney chokes. He wasn’t the only one, it seemed.

Mr Jukes and Barney Artist at Thekla

Mr. Jukes’ eclectic debut album was a true masterpiece and fans of it in the crowd you imagine to be everyone weren’t left empty-handed as angels and Grant Green, arguably two of the best LP numbers, are performed live with a hip hop twist to great effect. However, no Bombay Bicycle Club tracks make the setlist, but loyal fans of the band have a chance to pay homage to Steadman when Barney praises the “underrated musical genius” and does his best to keep him alive. embarrass.

It’s also time for another hip hop medley, ending with a performance by Kanye West. Touch the sky that drives the crowd crazy, before the set ends with the brilliant Vibrate and then an equally superb reminder Check the pulse, both from The Locket. The energy and passion of the three musicians on stage is truly contagious and reciprocated by the crowd, which laps every minute.

Go back a few years ago to when the Bombay Bicycle Club got reformed and very few would have imagined that these two talented but very different musicians would end up together in the studio, before a live UK tour, but we should be grateful that they did, and those who were at that concert should consider themselves especially lucky.

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