Julia Jacklin @ Saint Luke’s, Glasgow, 1 Dec

Julia Jacklin delivers a confident, heavenly performance that finds beauty in imperfection

Live Review by Katie Cutforth | 06 Dec 2019
  • Julia Jacklin live at St Luke's, Glasgow, 1 Dec

The freezing Glasgow evening on the first day of December feels an odd setting to witness Julia Jacklin; her discography exudes a steamy fervour that seems inseparable from the climate of her native Australia. The venue – converted parish church Saint Luke’s – stands imposing and elegant under the clear black sky; abandoned out front is a single frosty boot. By contrast, the atmosphere inside is warm and tender, as opening act Fenne Lily works skillfully through her compelling songs despite a very sore throat.

When Julia Jacklin walks on stage, to raucous applause from the crowd, she's alone. Wordlessly, she settles into Comfort, the melancholic closer of her 2019 sophomore record Crushing which depicts the stark guilt that often comes with ending a relationship. It’s an unusual choice for an opener, but perhaps Jacklin wishes to get the sorrow out of the way early – or simply to make the most of the venue’s glorious acoustics. ‘Don’t know how he’s doing / But that’s what you get’, she mourns, eyes to the ceiling. ‘Can’t be the one to hold him / When you were the one who left’.

The band then join her on stage for the pulsing, yearning Body. Unfortunately an issue with the drumkit slightly taints tonight’s rendition of what is surely one of the hottest singles of the year – though Jacklin nonetheless delivers the song with unbounded passion. But the highlight comes with the devastating Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You, which explores the familiarity that puts out the flame of a once passionate relationship. The song takes on a new power in the live set, Jacklin letting out a cry of frustrated pain that mimics the crashing riff. 

As a performance it is raw and laid-back. The band members play around, make mistakes and seem to enjoy themselves. It could be an open mic in a Sydney bar, were it not for the roars of hundreds of adoring fans. When addressing the audience, Jacklin is jovial. But when she sings, she couldn’t be more sincere: glaring as she relives about a moment or a feeling, meaning every word. Aside from the obvious fact of her phenomenal songwriting, the sheer virtuosity of Jacklin’s vocals is what really resonates tonight: the volume, the strength, the power that she exudes with what seems like minimal effort, too resonant even for the expansive interior of Saint Luke’s.

For the encore, Jacklin is once again alone with her guitar, bookending the performance. Don’t Let the Kids Win is a faultless closer: embodying the sorrow of Jacklin’s music, but above all, its empathy, and sense of optimism.