Review: Jacob Collier @ The Tivoli (Brisbane)

Jacob Collier played The Tivoli (Brisbane) 10 December, 2022.
Nick lives in Singapore where he enjoys amazing food, exotic travel and playing saxophone. In an ideal world, Nick would write about jazz music and nothing else.

Jacob Collier and his band transformed into luminous souls of resonance at The Tivoli on Saturday night (10 December) turning the room into a psychedelic cathedral and creating a syrupy, wonderland atmosphere of felt frequencies and lyrical majesty.

Collier is nothing short of a phenomenon who assembles his music with the detail and care of a Tibetan Thangka, the bulbous funky love of Sly and the Family Stone, and the multi-instrumental virtuosity of Prince.

On this night, Collier was like a sonic shepherd who guided the audience to participate as a choir and presented a kaleidoscope of musical invention featuring deft improvisations, banging beats, soul-searching ballads, and richly harmonised voices.

I first came across Jacob during a deep dive into harmonic theory and came across a YouTube video of him explaining his explorations into negative and positive harmony.

Jacob Collier.2
Image © Toni Aggs

Like musical revolutionaries Stravinsky, Debussy, and Mahler, or Coltrane, Ellington and Miles Davis, Collier employs chord progressions and chord qualities that are at the vanguard of modern thinking and the framework for mind-bending songs, grooves and collective improvisations.

The joy Collier gets from performing and singing en masse is unmistakable. "You are here, and we are here, all to make some music together, and it's a very exciting predicament," was the first thing he said.

He was effervescent on Saturday night and immediately invited the crowd to sing through a call and response sequence to connect. The crowd responded enthusiastically to Collier's invitation to collaborate musically and imitated the musical phrases he sung until finally arriving upon a chord that they sustained and began to harmonise from his hand signals that formed the opening chord from 'With The Love In My Heart'.

The band charged into high-energy renditions of 'Count The People' and 'Feel', and displayed outrageous musicianship. They sang in dense, four-part harmony while executing some virtuosic and dexterous rhythmic hooks and cadences pitted against atmospheric synth pads and dripping basslines that sound like magma.

"I hold the belief that this is the best band in the whole world," Collier said before introducing the band with a genuine sense of reverence and admiration. Search them out as they are bad arse!

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Image © Toni Aggs

'Hideaway' was next and is a slow and beautiful atmospheric journey. Jacob's exquisite lyrics, tone, and melodic genius were supported by dense and modulating harmonised voices of the band that modulated around the melody in a way that affected the room in a truly visceral way. The crowd were treated to some sub-sonic bottom end that turned the room into gravy and accepting the invitation to whale parts of the song, the atmosphere of an enchanted wonderland was manifest, and the room was gone.

'Don't You Know' featured a phat and fuzzy synth bass, wonderfully dissonant melodic interjections, disorientating rhythmic groupings and barbershop four-part harmonies.

The band were invited to show off their chops and took the crowd on some amazing, improvised journeys before busting into 32 bars of 'Thriller' and then detouring into the avant-garde.

Musicians revere Jacob Collier, and it isn't hard to hear why. The harmonic, rhythmic and melodic complexity of his music, his impeccable choice of tone and his ability to play a number of instruments at a ridiculously high level is mind-blowing.

Jacob Collier.4
Image © Toni Aggs

While 'Don't You Know' was a raucous high, energy jam, 'The Sun Is In Your Eyes' featured Jacob's beautiful guitar playing supporting his exquisite melodic vision and disarming lyrics that provided a soothing sonic hug to the mesmerised room.

His attraction for musical exploration found him sustaining what sounded like the b9 of a dominant 7th chord met by laughs, cheers and calls for a resolution from the crowd. Resolution accomplished, Jacob took the opportunity to test the structural integrity of The Tivoli and triggered some of the most bulbous, oozy and toothy synth with vocoder effect I have ever heard.

'In Too Deep', 'Time Alone With You' and 'All I Need' followed, and in a first ever for Jacob – he accepted from a young man called Elijah who was in the audience an invitation to perform 'Weak' by SWV as duet. Stevie Wonder's 'Love In Need Of Love Today' hypnotised everyone in the room, which segued into 'White Christmas' and the crowd in great voice.

Jacob then invited the crowd to contribute to his upcoming album, 'Djesse 4'. They found themselves singing in unison specific pitches that were recorded by the front of house sound engineer and intended to contribute to a 100,000 strong choir for the album.

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Image © Toni Aggs

'Sleeping On My Dreams' and 'With Love In My Dreams' brought the band back on, and 'Blackbird' closed the show. Jacob performed the encore alone on piano and sang 'Moon River', which killed everyone, and 'Somebody' before segueing into a choral conclusion that featured the audience singing in harmony, contrapuntally, and their soul cleansed.

At some stage during the show, Collier declared: "Music isn't about the notes, the chords and the rhythms, music is heart and having an open mind and being willing to just give things a try, to step into the unknown, and welcome the world and alchemise with your own internal alchemy."

More photos from the show.

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