Gig Review: Jungle were the essence of soul and groove at their biggest NZ show to date
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Gig Review: Jungle were the essence of soul and groove at their biggest NZ show to date

Too good - One fella carried on the vibes even after the lights came on.

Written by Matthew Pledger

Anyone in the sold-out Spark Arena crowd at Jungle's Auckland gig last night could tell the band had a very clear vision for how they wanted this tour to look and feel. 

Typically, lighting at gigs shines the spotlight on the lead singer, but Jungle was the exact opposite, with each band member a silhouette across changing backdrops. 

The focus was taken off the individuals on stage and placed on the collective group and the epic visuals that accompanied them. There were moments where it felt like we were living in the music video of the Daft Punk, Pharell & Nile Rodgers collab ‘Get Lucky’. 

The gig started with the pulsing of warm flashing lights as the band surprised us all by opening with one of their biggest OG hits, ‘Busy Earnin.’ 

Sin and Brook had a great yarn with Jungle - listen here:

The last time Jungle played in New Zealand was at Auckland's Town Hall in 2022, where ‘Busy Earnin’ was the encore. The fact that it's now become their opening track in just two years is testament to the absolute heater the London electronic act are on. 

On top of the refined and stunning visual production, there were some unexpected audio gems as well. 

Transitioning between songs, Jungle played a clip from the 2006 film 'Rocky Balboa': “Then the time comes for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed.” Then the party resumed at full force.  

Josh Lloyd-Watson founded Jungle alongside his childhood friend Tom McFarland, saying Jungle has always been about more than just the music. 

“We’ve always produced music and written music and been a production project more than anything," Lloyd-Watson told The Line Of Best Fit magazine. 

"A concept production project is probably the most accurate format of what Jungle really is. We like to create these sort of places to be in and experience the music from.” 

Most of the setlist came from Jungle's fourth and most recent album ‘Volcano.’ New band member Lydia Kitto has a leading role on the record. 

“We did one session [with Lydia] and we wrote ‘What D’You Know About Me?’ And it was like, okay, fuck. It was like, I can’t ignore that," Lloyd-Watson said. 

"We’re just eternally grateful, and it’s amazing to be working with talented people.” 

The band seemed so relaxed on stage, probably due to them having a holiday on Waiheke Island in the lead-up to the gig - must be nice. 

“We were lucky enough to get a week off & we spent it on Waiheke Island which is literally the most Idyllic place I've ever been to," Lloyd-Watson said in an interview with Newshub.

"Sign me up for New Zealand, we’re big fans.” 

Another highlight of the gig was the crowd - there was space-a-plenty to dance and boogie with no overcrowding or pushing. 

In my opinion, this environment was due to the delightful contingent on the mature side in attendance. Seeing grey hair at a dance gig is magic. Older people at gigs always emit such an infectious youthful exuberance as well as being unfazed by anything. People who choose to not grow up as they grow old are the best kinda people. 

The gig finished with ‘Keep Moving’, a beautifully lush and uplifting track. As the house lights turned on and the arena began to empty, the entertainment didn't stop. 

One lone legend in the seated area let his hips surrender to the music and danced his heart out to the exiting crowd, much to the enjoyment of all the on-lookers. 

He wiggled and shook, and as the roars of support grew louder, he ripped off his shirt and waved it around. 

My Scottish friend turned to me and said: “If he had taken his pants off too, the place would've gone fuckin' ballistic.” 

What a moment, and oh my days, what a gig!

Thank you to Jungle for coming to little ol' Aotearoa, embracing our country, and sharing with us what you have poured so much love and care into.