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Gig Review: Julia Jacklin @ SWX

Julia Jacklin embodies epic love stories and disassembles performative cues with a benign bluntness.

By Lily Turner, Third Year Geography

Pre Pleasure, Jacklin’s third album, tours through themes of simping on healthy love, self-alignment, and female pleasure. It’s a feminist’s utopia; a therapy album which follows Crushing, a cinematic break-up album.

Having cancelled several shows in the US after contracting influenza, which was “so bleak it was almost funny”, she seemed mildly frustrated by the struggles of touring which have been “financially and emotionally stressful”.

Erin Rae started the night with a soothing and melodic sound wired by melancholy - everything you’d expect from a warm-up act for Jacklin. Temple Meads being the only place she had explored in Bristol, it’s disappointing that the sticky and overcrowded venue, SWX, was chosen for the gig.

The Titanic theme song: ‘My Heart Will Go On’ was Jacklin’s opener, preparing everyone for the lovesickness about to come. ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ teased into the set with a checklist of life advice which makes you mull over the importance of family: “And don't let your brother / Stop thinking you're cool”.

Julia is the incarnation of your grandma in her early 30s; sophisticated in her Victorian-style frock yet indifferent to the overly reactive crowd who entertained her commentary interludes like they’d be disciplined if they didn’t seem enthused. This ‘fan-girling’ was led by menopausal mothers pushing themselves and their daughters to the front, husbands who needed some space from their wives and people in their 20s, already tired of ‘adulting’.

She shared her anxiety that her friend Paul might not have made it into the venue as she’d forgot to add him to the waiting list. A shout from the side of the room dissipated this fear. She merrily continued to recall moving to Bath for love when she was 21, only to break-up days after. Jacklin started performing at an open-mic night in Bath before she ‘made it’. Paul was her first loyal fan. Of course, the overly supportive crowd applauded the reunion and passage to success which Jacklin, quite literally welcomed with open arms.

The setlist was incrementally injected with her self-declared indie-pop hits: ‘Pool Party’ and ‘Pressure to Party’ only to be followed by her quieter insecure tunes such as ‘Good Guy’ which touches on misplaced love “Tell me I'm the love of your life, just for a night / Even if you don't mean it”.

Her silky vocals sounded identical to her recordings which, although highlighted the strength and rawness of her voice, caused the set to lack a unique personality. ‘Ignore Tenderness’ momentarily broke the monotonous streak as she explored a different pitch, enriching the auditory experience and infrastructure of the song.

Towards the end of the set, she told us there were three songs left until she would leave the stage only to return for one more song. After calls to play ‘Someday’, a Strokes cover and her most streamed song, she refused saying she’ll “play one of my own songs instead”. Jacklin's an earnest teaser who respectfully betrays performative cues with warning. This contracts the power dynamic between the artist and the audience, creating a more human-to-human experience which prioritises music over crowd-pleasing.

Jacklin vacated the stage to ‘My Heart Will Go On’, the ultimate soundtrack of the night. I felt like Rose floating on the door as Julia disappeared off stage.

Featured Image: Lily Turner

Have you listened to Pre Pleasure?