Much like voting to leave the EU, Jack Garratt is a lot more popular than you might think, especially in Somerset. Early on Friday evening, evidence of this is served up as droves of fans head to the newly relocated John Peel Stage, which is overflowing beyond its capacity well before he appears onstage. “Think how cool this must look to him,” muses one fan.
It’s soon apparent that Garratt agrees. “Where the hell did you guys come from?” he exclaims shortly into his set. “Oh my God! You guys look incredible, look at you!” The 24 year-old from Buckinghamshire must have been getting use to the attention since topping the BBC Sound of 2016 list at the start of the year, but even he seems genuinely taken aback by the floods of new fans who’ve gathered to watch him tear through openers ‘Coalesce (Synesthesia, Pt.2)’ and ‘Breathe Life’, wailing on his drum kit and synth pads like that gorilla playing ‘In The Air Tonight’.
Garratt is of course famous for performing entirely solo, and his virtuoso multi-instrumentalist tendencies are on show throughout the set. He picks up a guitar to add it to the melee for his third track, ‘Weathered’ which he dedicates to his mum and dad, who are in the audience, leading to the loudest cheer of the show. He promises to make the song “as special as I can” in their honour, and turns in a tender singalong before the track morphs into a much wilder, dancier beast.
The set is punctuated by Garratt exclaiming things like “Oh man!” and looking for all the world like a man having the best day of his life. He’s winningly self-deprecating, and when he follows a mention of having released debut album ‘Phase’ three months ago by modestly saying: “Cool” he draws a big laugh from the crowd, happy to see a performer confident enough not to take himself too seriously. He goes on to play what he says is his favourite song from the album, the ravy, dubstep-influenced ‘Far Cry’.
He probably takes the self-effacing schtick too far when he informs the crowd that he’ll be “ruining a couple of songs by Craig David and Justin Timberlake”, as his mash-up of ‘Seven Days’ and ‘Señorita’ is nothing if not crowd pleasing. Next track ‘Fire’ sounds a little muddy and muddled, but Garratt’s sheer energy pulls him through.
Garratt indulges himself in a couple of long guitar solos before each of his final two tracks. ‘Surprise Yourself’ builds to a singalong finale that tilts at Mumford and Sons’ idea of euphoria, while closer ‘Worry’ shows his guitar talents in full flight.
“Have you enjoyed yourself?” Garratt asks before he leaves, and thousands clear their approval. “This has been a dream come true,” he adds, “Thank you so much for having me.” On a largely nightmarish day for Britain, it’s nice to know some dreams can become a reality.