Arts concert review

Just take me to your hideaway

Grammy-winning singer Jacob Collier blows Boston away with another concert

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Two-time Grammy-winning Jacob Collier performed at Brighton Music Hall on Mar. 13.
Retts Wood

Jacob Collier
Brighton Music Hall
Mar. 13, 2017

Narrowly missing yet another blizzard, Jacob Collier finally made it to Brighton Music Hall on Monday night after a snowstorm earlier in February forced him to postpone his concert until now. Back in December, he performed at MIT with the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, and that concert served as my personal introduction to the incredible world of singer/arranger/composer Jacob Collier. How can someone have so much talent with a voice so pure?

Since then, the 22-year-old has won two Grammy awards for his arrangements of “You and I” and “Flintstones,” and I’m not even surprised. Collier is a musician in every sense of the word — he lives music through every note he plays, every key he modulates, and every word he writes.

The London-native credits much of his success to Ben Bloomberg, a PhD student under Tod Machover in the MIT Media Lab. After discovering Collier on YouTube a few years ago, Bloomberg reached out to Collier to help develop a vocal harmonizer that allows Collier to harmonize with himself via a keyboard. Bloomberg also plays a large role in the technological complexities behind Collier’s one-man show, which on Monday night featured layers of audio looping along with real-time video loops that were projected onto a screen behind Collier.

The concert opened with the gorgeously sultry voice of Joanna Teters, after which Collier took the stage and jumped right into an energetic performance “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing.” Of course, the Stevie Wonder cover was Jacob Collier-ified with jaw-dropping harmonies and an array of instruments from tambourine to upright bass — every single one of which he ran around playing himself.

In between songs, Collier explained that he set up the concert stage to mimic his music room at home. Filled with guitars, keyboards, and drums, it actually inspired the title of his latest album In My Room. Most of the songs performed during the concert were from this album, and my absolute favorite song of both the album and the concert was “Hideaway.” Written by Collier himself, it’s an exquisitely beautiful song that builds from a pure, solo melody in Collier’s lower range and climbs into an angelic pattern of layered harmony. During the performance, he broke into bouts of improvisation with his harmonizer, and as he jumped around and grinned, I could feel his raw passion for music sprinkle down onto the audience.

Other notable songs from the concert include “Saviour,” during which he split the audience into halves to sing along to parts of the lively chorus, and “In the Real Early Morning,” another gorgeous, mellow song from Collier’s album. It was accompanied by equally beautiful visuals in the background that animated in sync with Collier’s playing.

Ending the concert on an encore, Collier sang a cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” on his harmonizer. With its added funky groove, it showcased the epitome of the greatness that is Jacob Collier — even though he shook up some of the original rhythms, and purposefully added dissonant harmonies into the mix, every second of that cover still meshed together perfectly.

It was a chilly evening when I walked into the concert hall, but I left with a heart half-melted. Thanks, Jacob.