Saturday, 2 March 2013



Picture taken from Luke's Facebook page
It didn’t surprise me in the slightest when Luke Jackson revealed how tickets for his solo show at The Stables in Milton Keynes had sold out in advance of the night. I felt incredibly lucky I’d grabbed mine when I did because missing out would have been wounding. Seeing the eighteen year old roots singer-songwriter play live last October was enough to ensure I’ll be snapping up tickets to any and all gigs within a reasonable-mile radius, even beyond. Having been completely blown away by the sheer power and perfection of that previous performance, this latest one far exceeded what have rightly become even loftier expectations.

He wasn’t exactly lacking any confidence beforehand but the 30 date tour supporting Martyn Joseph has managed to unlock more of it from somewhere. There was a tweak here and there with some of the songs I’d seen on that previous set. These were only minor things but the detail they added made a huge difference, culminating in a finesse that was quite frankly, spellbinding. Four months on and Luke didn’t just move things up to the next level, he skipped a dozen in between and aimed right for the sun.

It’s impossible to not be totally amazed by him, the way he commands such a presence up there on the stage. It may well just be one man and his guitar but the exuberance with which he plays and sings opens the listener’s mind up wide. When his voice is belting out a song it’s like the force of a hundred folk, all concentrated through his captivating solo vocal. Right from the off he showed he meant business with Run and Hide. It’s the perfect opener. The power packed behind it grabs your complete attention as soon as it begins. So you’ve had a terrible day and think your mind may not be in the right place to relax and enjoy a night of live music? Wrong! There’s no chance of that with Luke on the case. Whatever troubles you might have had are smashed to smithereens. The throttle is opened fully and even this early on he cements in your mind the cast iron certainty you’ll be leaving the place having been well and truly awed.

As well as many songs from acclaimed debut album More Than Boys, it was a treat to hear a few new numbers. Out of Time transported me off on a sorrowful journey of heartbreak and Luke was spot on with the emotional intensity his lyrics demanded. The music, while remaining temperate throughout, complimented the full force of the voice behind the words. It was compelling.  Likewise with Learn to Dance, written in Glasgow while at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards weekend, you can’t but feel shocked he came away empty handed. Seeing him live again reinforces that shock for me.

Just when you think you’ve been wowed to the max he pulls out another charmer by way of Dancing Gerrard, joking how this was one of his old songs. It is one that shows the cutting-edge observational skills he had even four years ago, being about a character who left a mark on him. The story behind its conception revealed something endearing about Luke himself. How thoughtful he was, and still is. This humbles you to him even more, in addition to the natural charm of his cordial showmanship.

When the entire evening is of such star quality, naturally it is hard to isolate any specific moments for fear of detracting from the whole. However the gloves came off and were launched into deep space with a cover of Sam Cook’s Change Is Gonna Come. It was just astounding! Luke proves hands down his ability to sing and play the blues with the likes of Fathers Footstep Blues among others. With this particular cover though, he showed just how strong his grasp on another genre is. He sings and plays those blues so damn good he puts musicians thrice his age to shame.

Originality and imagination are key ingredients where his covers are concerned, making sure that although you know their roots it is Luke’s versions you will be remembering from now on. His rendition of Wayfaring Stranger, the first of two songs for his encore, was breathtaking. Seriously, you will require oxygen. Starting off a cappella before bringing in a bass-heavy punch which then eased into a striking strum, the flawless vocals hit you like a gale force wind.  Closing with Hit the Road he demonstrated his inspiring creativity with a merging medley of some well-known classics from the likes of Ray Charles, Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Lemar all wrapped in an exquisite parcel of his own unique input and style.

Luke Jackson dazzles - lyrically, musically and vocally. He excels at what he does and this night was amazing! There's a maturity to him but he never hides away from his youth. I’ve referred to him as a rising star but this show made it clear to me he is already a blazing sun lighting up the music scene. Given the current climate this is just what is needed right now. This year his sun will burn even brighter still as he goes supernova. I assure you when you've seen him once, you will not be able to keep away, just remember to take along some oxygen for when he steals away your breath. Indeed, if live music is a drug then I consider myself hopelessly addicted.
As the filming of any videos at The Stables is prohibited I've included ones from other sources. 
1. We Are Not The Same at The Merchants Inn, Rugby - fimed by yours truly.
2. Out of Time from his intimate in-store gig at Union in Lewes last week.
3. Wayfaring Stranger at The Merchants Inn, Rugby.  

Visit Luke's website at and check out the gig dates up there. Do yourself and everyone you know a favour and book some tickets. You will have an amazing night.

You can also follow Luke on Facebook at or on Twitter @lukepauljackson


  1. What a great review, and well deserved, Luke's the genius in whole number of ways, and a very entertaining and charming fella as well,
    Cheers yer star,
    Brigs, and all us Super Punk Muffins :)

  2. Thanks :-) He really is outstanding! I mean what I say too, once people see him live once, they will be back every time he's around.

  3. Superb review and justly deserved -he is a fine, fine artist. Even now, with new songs like Fumes And Faith, Luke's writing is already making another quantum leap...

  4. Sounds like it was a wonderful night. Hope to get to one of Luke's gigs one day when I get to the UK. Great review - could almost feel like I was there!