Jai Paul’s recent return has felt like a dream.
The mysterious pop phenomenon’s surprise listing on this year’s Coachella billing had fans the world over itching to see how this incognito introvert would fare on stage at the world’s biggest music festival.
His performance was lauded as incredible by most, critiqued as slightly lacking energy by some. For those across the pond who were lucky enough to be there, though, it will always be remembered as Jai Paul’s first ever gig.
Those on UK shores could only rely on snippets strewn across Twitter and Reddit to see the spectacle — that was, until Paul announced two live shows in London shortly afterwards.
Noise Narrative were lucky enough to get tickets.
Paul Institute artist and Jai Paul band member Fabiana Palladino opened proceedings, with a spin through some of her exciting repertoire.
Palladino’s material is a throwback to the epic synth balladry that swirled through speakers in the ’80s, but delivered through a rich, modern lens. More familiar tracks such as ‘Mystery’ and ‘Shimmer’ sounded brilliant on Here @ Outernet’s soundsystem, as well as a sprinkling of forthcoming music.
Opening for Jai Paul’s homecoming performance was never going to be easy, but Palladino set the tone perfectly.
Paul eventually emerged an hour later to the spooky sound of ‘Higher Res’, a track which he produced for ex-Outkast member Big Boi.
The crowd was instantly besotted – this deified man of legend became tangible in an instant, and he sounded better than ever.
Paul looked at home on stage, as he glided through other cuts from yesteryear including ‘Jasmine’, ‘All Night’ and his cover of Jennifer Paige’s 1998 hit ‘Crush’.
There were murmuring concerns of the vocal mix sounding off during Paul’s Coachella performance. This was absolutely not the case here in London. The show, from start to end, sounded incredible.
Many of those in attendance would have had a pretty firm idea of the setlist – the Rayners Lane-hailer only has a thin discography. It was welcomed, then, when Paul dropped a hard-hitting cover of Gary Numan’s ‘Cars’.
The inimitable couplet of BTSTU and Str8 Outta Mumbai finished the evening off in emphatic fashion – this was collective euphoria, relief, and disbelief all mixed into one Tottenham Court Road-dwelling cauldron.
For many, this gig was their coronation. Their king is back, and his reign has only just begun.