Review/ Puma Blue @ The Louisiana

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By Bethany Marris, Online Music Editor

Online Music Editor Bethany Marris reviews Puma Blue at The Louisiana, supported by Sunken

Understated, intimate and prolific with artistic alumni, The Louisiana has provided a platform for up-and-coming artists for over two decades. The riverside pub is one of Bristol’s dearest venues, and has hosted for acts from Placebo to The Chemical Brothers; an ideal location for Jacob Allen, under his moniker Puma Blue, to showcase to a rapidly growing following.

Embarking on their first support-tour were Sunken, a five-piece, london-based band. Echoes of dub, alt-rock and jazz-fusion in the band’s composition bring to mind artists such as Kraunghbin and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Moreover, the voice of front-woman Poppy Billingham transfixed the room, expending rich, soulful vocals far beyond her years. Currently, Sunken’s presence on SoundCloud and Spotify is slight, yet after recently recording with acclaimed producer Ben Baptie, it’s safe to anticipate the bands progression.

Under ruby stage lights, a modest opening saw Allen and his cohort shuffling between apparatus, fiddling with stands and tuning instruments. All the while, a pre-recorded spoken word piece, ‘as-is’ eased the audience into the 50 minutes of melodic relief that was to follow. Playing the bulk of Swum Baby - Allen’s debut EP - in the first third of the show generated a welcome air of familiarity. The conflicted verse of ‘Want Me’, melting into weighty strums, followed by the self-deprecating electro-beats of ‘Soft Porn’ manifested vulnerability and bitterness in a way intangible through audio-file.

Throughout the show’s second half, the crowd were treated to new material in abundance. Tracks such as ‘Bruise cruise’ and ‘Lil Lude’ promised the evolution of Puma Blue’s sound on the upcoming EP. Layers of electric drum beats, twinkling guitar riffs, steady bass and effervescent sax foreshadow plenty of funk and groove in the releases to come.

While Allen’s gift for live performance certainly made the evening special, the band of four behind him deserve a great deal of praise, particularly the wonderful saxophonist Harvey Grant. Through luxurious, woozy solos and decadent interludes, Grant demanded the senses of the listener, gifting moments of access to a smoky void of organic jazz.

The penultimate track performed was a cover of Radiohead’s ‘All I Need’, a harrowing chronicle of longing, tributed to beautifully by the sensitivity of Allen’s voice. The set came to a close with ‘Only trying 2 tell U’, a falsetto driven lullaby that made for a perfect send off.

Featured Image: Bethany Marris/Epigram


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