The singer-songwriter draws the Clerkenwell crowd in with few words and a stripped-back setlist
“Crickets,” grins Max Jury as he tunes his acoustic guitar. Following the pandemic, he isn’t entirely back into the swing of playing live, he tells us. He’s forgotten how he used to fill these moments of transition. But the comfortable silence and low chatter in The Slaughtered Lamb’s basement venue seems appropriate for a set like this – quiet, understated and intimate. The casual nature of the performance suits Jury. He’s not a needy performer.
Jury isn’t looking for a reaction from his audience. As he sits at the piano to croon out ‘Great American Novel’, smiling softly, or gently rocks out to ‘Little Jean Jacket’, it feels as if we could be watching him rehearse. Not because the performance is undercooked, but because Jury is in his own world. He doesn’t try hard to draw us in, but his immersion is naturally compelling.
His new material, taken from his upcoming album Avenues, is some of his best. The soaring ‘Feel Free’ transports us out of the Clerkenwell venue and onto the dusty roads of the American south. Title track ‘Avenues’, his closer, sees his bandmates head to the bar for a drink, leaving Jury to weave his magic alone at the piano. For ‘Is This Love?’, the album’s lead single, he invites up his collaborator and ethereal opening act, Delilah Montagu. The two sit side by side onstage and deliver whispery vocals that have the whole room leaning in closer.
It’s the first of three shows Jury will be playing at The Slaughtered Lamb but he already looks at home enough that he could be a nightly fixture. He may claim to be out of practice, but his natural magnetism as a performer is something that can’t be rehearsed.
Max Jury will play two further shows at The Slaughtered Lamb on 30 January and 7 February. Get tickets here.