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Jacco Gardner Enchants Rough Trade NYC with a Little Magic

June 12th, 2015

Jacco Gardner – Rough Trade NYC – June 11, 2015

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Wrapping up a long evening of music at the Northside Festival, Jacco Gardner felt like a conduit to another world on Thursday night. It was hot and steamy outside Rough Trade NYC, but Gardner and his excellent band were a jungle oasis evoking a unique magic and sound. For “Clear the Air,” an early set highlight, the bass bopped along like the sound of a summer rain while the keyboards twisted a time-travel groove. His sound is often described as baroque pop, which only seemed to cover half the music filling the room last night. In reality, each instrument evoked something of the past: a harpsichordlike keyboard recalled an alternate, funkier 18th century Vienna, the bass grooves would’ve been right at home in a ’70s discotheque and the reefer-drenched guitars were ’60s London.

Sometimes Gardner was almost superfluous, playing a light acoustic rhythm guitar while the lead guitarist beautifully streamed the melodies; or shaking a tambourine or maraca while his skilled drummer conjured the rhythms; or even tapping away at the synth while the keys player expertly manipulated the organ. But this was deceiving. The Netherlands native was clearly the potion master, carefully weighing and mixing each ingredient into a delicious, exotic cocktail. The set featured most of the the recently released Hypnophobia“Grey Lanes” offered a terrific prog-rock instrumental piece that gave the band room to show off their skills while “Face to Face” was a new-folk masterpiece that Gardner led to some real ecstatic moments.

A few other highlights came from 2013’s Cabinet of Curiosities, including “Chameleon” and “The Ballad of Little Jane,” which found the bassist bouncing open wormholes to both the past and future. But even despite the late hour, Gardner and Co. obliged the not-ready-to-go-yet with a best-for-last encore. Upon return, each band member took up a different spot (the drummer to the bass, etc.) while Gardner led the newly misplaced ensemble through a cover of the Skywalkers’ “How to Live Again,” which wasn’t too shabby even with the changes. After everyone got back to their normal spots, they closed with “Lullaby,” which opened in gorgeous fashion, Gardner sweetly singing, the band joining in ethereal harmony. Eventually, the melody split open and they launched into a somewhat unexpected jam that went on for several euphoric “wow!” minutes, the true potency of their enchantment kicking in—a fitting, magical end before the inevitable return to reality.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo