A small man with an angelic voice floats onto The Castle Hotel’s stage, and proceeds to create a bewitching atmosphere, one in which the audience cannot help but sway along to stories of sad breakups and fragmented feelings of lust. Jacob Allen, known as stage name Puma Blue, transported the audience through a tumult of emotions, all blue as his name, and blue as his piercing eyes. The Castle Hotel, a 200 year-old building, acted as a mellow and intimate venue to accompany the music, with Lucy Lu, the Waterloo-based music producer, lulling the crowd into hypnotic trance before Puma Blue took to the stage.
Allen fuses his jazz and hip hop influences with driving bass lines and dubesque synth beats to create a sound of intoxicating romanticism. His precious voice, fragile and yet rough, is bitter sweet.This paradoxical mix of gloom and seductiveness is reflected in his poetic lyrics, which are simultaneously ironic and emotionally confused. He trod round the edges of his subjects without ever giving the audience the satisfaction of fully determined feeling — there are no definite words of love or hate, black or white (he is, after all, blue). The ambiguity of his subjects conversely allowed the audience to reflect on their own moments of disorientation, producing an unexpected connection between the artist and the listener.
While his well-known songs, ‘She’s Just a Phase’ and ‘Want You’, filled the room with a raw late-night feeling, it was Puma Blue’s new songs that were a real treat. The more upbeat, hopeful sounds of Allen’s voice tenderly blended with masterful jazz sax lines, creating an alluring energy to end the gig with. ‘Lil Lude’ included an interesting use of synthetic beats to create energetic percussion that further teased the audience.
Puma Blue exceeded expectations, offering a purity and honesty that can only be conveyed through his live performance. So, despite his status as ‘Bedroom Pop’ (and his domineering presence on the same irritatingly named Spotify playlist) Puma Blue is an artist that demands live attention – get your head out of your headphones, and go see him live instead.