“Charles Bradley, this one’s for you!” – Mr Jukes @ The Leadmill
Just hours following the news that soul legend Charles Bradley had passed away, Jack Steadman aka Mr Jukes took to the Leadmill stage amidst an oddly muted gig atmosphere.
It was hard to tell upon entering The Leadmill if the tense atmosphere amongst a largely young crowd was due to a long and emotionally draining fresher’s week, the sad news of Charles Bradley’s death just hours before, or the expectation that Mr Jukes’ first appearance in Sheffield would be a seminal one. The newly formed band walked on to restrained applause and muffled cheers; however, it was clear from the first snap of the snare and Jack Steadman’s resulting smile that the day’s news would not cast a shadow over the show.
From a heavily sample-driven album came an unexpectedly heavy, big-band influenced live performance. Jack led from the front with driving bass lines, held back only by a perfectly relaxed rhythm section and tight horn section offering well-rehearsed, punchy staccato stabs.
Although not many parallels could be drawn between the album and Jack’s work with Bombay Bicycle Club, there were comforting similarities between the two in their live setup. Full use of the bass guitar’s range coupled with funky drums, and the use of vocal breaks with Jack’s signature brand of vocal tone created a certain air of nostalgia received well by the crowd.
The gig ended fittingly with ‘Grant Green’, the last song that Charles Bradley had featured on before losing his battle with cancer. Jack prefaced it with his only mention of the late star, during which he dedicated the set to the “loving, warm-hearted and inspirational” album collaborator. It was clear from this eulogy that although no reference had been made to Charles throughout the set, Jack’s respects were paid through giving the crowd the best show possible.
Mr Jukes’ album God First is out now on Island Records. Catch our interview with Jack here.