Photo by Josh Aberman
Jacob Allen, better known by Puma Blue, walks on stage in a green, flowy silk shirt. He is soft-spoken and gentle in-between songs, thanking the audience for coming out to the venue despite the current tube strikes. However, to have missed out on Puma Blue’s show at the Electric Brixton on the 3rd of March would have meant missing out on one of the musical geniuses of today’s British music scene. As a genre-defying artist, Puma Blue approaches his particular brand of indie/alternative music with a healthy blend of R&B, Jazz, and Soul, similar to other artists such as King Krule and Cosmo Pyke. This jazz and music theory background is evident in Puma Blue’s playing, as he is a mastermind both vocally and as a guitarist. He shifts effortlessly between extended jazz chords and triads, and—similar to guitar greats like Hendrix and Page—he plays both rhythm and lead guitar parts interchangeably. This is all accented by the way in which Puma Blue masterfully uses guitar pedals like the Boss DD-7 in combination with his Digitech Whammy to create ambiently trippy and pitch-shifting oscillations. It is evident that Puma Blue has been studying music his whole life as, in a heartwarming moment, his father is invited on stage to accompany him on the trombone. His father is a brilliant trombonist and Puma credits him as the man responsible for all his musical interests and influences when he welcomes him onto the stage. When they hug before his dad exits stage left, it is a genuinely heartfelt moment, which is rare in the all-too-often overly-performative setting of a live show.
The audience was singing along all the way from Puma’s very first song in the set, ‘Velvet Leaves’, to his final encore with ‘Only Trying 2 Tell U’. And they cannot be blamed for their emotional enthrallment and connection to Puma Blue’s music. His songs are oddly anthemic despite how soft-spokenly gorgeous they so often are. The lyrics to ‘Midnight Blue’, ‘Moon Undah Water’, and ‘(She’s) Just A Phase’ long to be shout-sung post-breakup in the way that one can only do at a live concert, and (let’s face it) are songs which had likely already been there for many in the audience to help them through bad breakups in the past. But, for many in the audience, Puma Blue’s music also provided the perfect atmosphere for a romantic date, and many couples could be seen holding each other and swaying along. Whether you view Puma Blue’s music as über-romantic or perfect for your breakup playlist, if you were in the audience that night you would have been treated to his already-amazing jazz-influenced indie music, stunningly adapted for a live setting.
Photos by Josh Aberman
Edited by Talia Andrea, Deputy Music Editor