Jacob Collier LIVE: A crazy performer... for all the right reasons

28 June 2022
By Ellie Palmer
The singer, pianist and all-round musician is currently on a sizeable world tour. We attended his show in Manchester, UK, and were expectedly blown away

'Crazy' would probably be the most accurate term to describe Jacob Collier – the best kind of crazy, may we add.

The English musician has been touring all around the world promoting his Djesse project; a monumental four-volume, 50-song, jazz-funk-soul-blues-and-everything-in-between venture that has been in the works for at least four years. His tour takes him almost everywhere – from Montreal to Sydney, Tokyo to Manchester.

He's already won multiple Grammys for the three volumes of the project that have been released so far, including Best Arrangement, Instrument & Vocals for He Won't Hold You in 2021 from Vol. 3, and for All Night Long in 2020 from Vol. 1, plus Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for Moon River in 2020 from Vol. 2.  

With the final volume of the project still to come, he can expect more Grammy nominations to come his way.

Collier spent a few days in the UK touring the project in June, including a night at Manchester's 02 Apollo, famous for previously hosting some of the world's biggest stars including Queen, The Rolling Stones and The Jacksons.

He had a full house, and unsurprisingly so. As he bounced on stage to start his set at around 8.15, one thing was evidently clear from the off: this man is eccentric, flamboyant, and – most of all – a genius.

Collier was backed up by a handful of musicians plus three pitch-perfect vocalists, yet despite the arguably small-ish band his performance was brimming overboard with depth. Indeed, Collier himself was playing five, six, perhaps even seven instruments throughout the night. Some at the same time.

At centre-stage was his glorious grand piano (we couldn't quite make out the manufacturer of it), and evidence of his jazz piano studies at the Royal Academy as a teen shone through consistently.

Using his piano, his impressively wide-ranged vocals, his bongos, synths, guitars, and the rest of his collection of worldly instruments, he showed beyond doubt just how strong a command he has over the music he plays; to a non-musician's ear, it must seem as though he can play any combination of notes and make it sound good. But in reality, each individual note is meticulously planned and thought out.

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Take All I Need from Vol. 3 as an example. Just when you think you've got the hang of the song (a song which already has plenty of harmonic twists and turns), he throws you a spanner in the shape of a half semitone leap. In simpler terms, he's now successfully singing in between two notes. 

Other hit songs included on his set list were In Too Deep, Feel, With the Love in My Heart, Hideaway and others; each one all the more elevated when heard live. 

He rounded off his impressively lengthy set (longer than the average pop musician's set these days) by conducting the 4,000-strong crowd in a live choir performance. He gave different sections of the crowd a different note to sing, conducting us at his own will, almost as his little play toy. It was mesmerising to watch, and quite possibly the highlight of the show. 

Jacob continues his tour all throughout Europe this summer. We would highly recommend you get yourself down to one. Full tour details can be found here.