come hike up the sugar mountain!


Jack River @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW Australia 07/06/2019 written by Brendan Lewis.

Come climb the sugar mountain and dance the night away in the ballroom at its peak, so high above the world with the indie-pop sensation, Jack River. Tonight as we embark on this sure to be spectacular quest up the mountain to the constellation ball, anything seems possible along the way, magical fields of stardust and rust, falling from Mars or Saturn possibly? One thing that is promising though, is a night full of musical wonder!

Equipped with her newly landed debut album ‘Sugar Mountain’ and fresh from her adventures on the recent Florence + The Machine tour earlier this year, Jack River is ready to lead this crowd of adoring adolescent-filled crowd up-up and away!...

The quick pulsing guitar strokes and sweet bubbly vocal waves of Holly (A.K.A Jack River) in ‘Fields’ starts the magical hike. Holly dances joyfully amidst the lights sparkling off her dress, twirling, waving and spinning around while a steady thump of the drums drive Holly’s energy.

The air around me in the crowd is thick with excitement and care-free joy which carries into the less-up-beat and exciteful cruisy vibes of ‘Confess’, the sassy dance provoking folk/pop wonder ‘Limo Song’ (if only all mountain hikes had Limo rides up them!) and the breathtaking euphoria of ‘So High’.

‘Confess’ brings the feeling of strolling along a pleasant stream in the wilderness, which musically is a step down from ‘Fields’ yes, however Holly’s beaming stage presence which she projects over her audience like a spell, keeps the atmospheric energy sustained brilliantly!

For our Limo segment of this journey (Limo Song), Holly picks up a guitar… probably her guitar, come to think of it and let’s the sassy hook driven dance anthem radiate the energy more, leaving Holly free to bust a subtle move while focusing on her guitar work.

I’m a little surprised that we encounter ‘So High’ so soon after the sensational dance anthem of ‘Limo Song’ as it seems to me as if Holly might be playing too many of her fan favourites too early in the set, but the night is still young, so it’ll be interesting how this plays out. Listening to this song at home gives me a contradicting feeling, the lyrics take you to the upper most height of the mountain peak, taking your breath away, while the music leaves you floating in the stream at the mountains warm depths? This is like taking a leak while drinking a milkshake! But on the live front however, this song delivers the indulgent buzzing energy perfectly with twinkling lights bouncing off Holly’s twirling and dancing figure.

As far as the mix of sound goes, I’m quite satisfied! Except for the rough waves of bass dominating the mix of instruments (but not Holly’s exquisite vocals thankfully) in ‘Confess’, which the guitar should be the main instrumental focal point, everything is balanced brilliantly and shines Holly’s voices through the theatre sublimely!

As the show progresses and we climb higher and higher up the mountain, drawing closer to it’s summit, one thing is apparent to me. If one sits/stands at the back of the venue at a Jack River concert they would likely miss out on what I feel makes her show special, the atmosphere and overall experience. Here at the front, I don’t need sight to feel the happiness and excitement around me as Holly holds hands while singing to fans at the front as she stands on a crate between the stage and front barrier in ‘Talk Like That’, which raises the energy sky-high, filling the gap in musical energy and I can smell the sweet scent of the fairy floss that people give out to the audience to raise the excitement in the soft serenity of ‘In Infinity’. Even the way Holly stops the music suddenly to plead with some audience members to stop fighting and cut it out, proving that when Holly projects her energy during her performance, visually connecting with fans, pointing, etc, it’s authentic! Even having 2000 fans sing along joyfully around you while Holly embraces it all and shoots it right back at us with high-school dance-like lighting circling around us adds to the overall experience. And yes, it’s a very girly atmosphere! As girly as the vibe might be, I’m very impressed at how Holly can so easily and strategically raise the energy in less dynamic song to meet the hype of the night, Holly obviously has a real knack for performing!

Even when the audience singing along plus the thick bass in fan favourite ‘Fools Gold’ at the end of the set being a bit domineering to Holly’s vocals, I can’t help but smile as we stand here at the top of the sugar mountain looking back on our journey tonight…

Wait, if we’re at the top and it’s the end, how do we get down?! Guess we’ll find out next time!...