For Jordan Rakei, from his infectious grooves down to the offensively loud shirt he’s sporting tonight, there’s only one word. Jazzy.
Alongside the likes of Tom Misch and Zak Abel, Rakei forms part of a new groove cult, neo-soul kids rebranding jazz for the beat generation. Across two EP’s and on his 2016 debut Cloak, the Brisbane based writer-producer has effortlessly danced between soul, jazz and reggae, resulting in gorgeous, late-night radio vibes.
But can those frequencies be broadcast to a live setting? As the room begins to jive to ‘Midnight Mischief’, it certainly seems so. With sweet solos and subtle scatting, this bleeds straight into smooth groove ‘A Tribe Called Government’, with Rakei demanding “shout it like a stereo / I’m not your stereotype.” Frankly, he’s on fire.
Tonight’s crowd, hipster by even Headrow House standards, seem hooked on every word. Admittedly, it’s difficult not to be won over; his soft Australian lilt is warm, even when scathingly dedicating ‘Snitch’ to America’s new, pussy grabbing president. Not to mention, Rakei’s vocal prowess is captivating. His voice melting into the music so naturally, so confidently, you can pinpoint the exact moment each girl in the room falls for him. And each guy, for that matter.
There are some minor issues, though. Undoubtedly, the accompanying band give Jordan’s music the extra kick it needs live, filling out ‘Blame It On The Youth’ with tight, rhythmic stabs. However, he would benefit from more stripped back moments; the heartfelt pining of ‘Rooftop’ formed a beautiful, yet sadly solitary, reprise. The set also feels unevenly paced, making the end drag slightly. Maybe some crowd favourites, like ‘Add The Bassline’, should be saved ‘til last.
Yet Rakei’s performance is so utterly soulful, it brings life to a world crushed by dissertations and Donald Trump. The creases in that jazzy shirt could be ironed out yet.