Just Jack, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

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The Independent Culture

A happy-go-lucky Jack Allsopp steps forward to meet the crowd, peers around and announces: "I just saw my mum and dad up there. That's pretty cool." He explains his usual trick of finding something to greet each new audience with, concluding, a little relieved, "We're home."

His new album has caused a flurry of interest. This latest offering boasts heavily melodic vocals and a stronger electro influence, changing the dimensions of his until recently trip- and hip-hop world.

The set begins disappointingly, and without conviction, "Writer's Block" moves swiftly into the more upbeat "253". His band participates with energy and professionalism and it is hard to work out what is missing at the early stages: all the right elements are there.

Maybe it's because the focus is all on Jack – you start to wonder if he is actually that talented, or just well branded. He markets well as the "Astronaut" of our time, crooning, "He's been a space cadet for years, says one day he'll be an astronaut," and, realising one day that he didn't want to spend his life in his bedroom, became a musician.

Clarity comes through a commitment to the performance: Jack thrives on the crowd's excitement, and what starts off as something slightly nerve-racking for everyone grows in strength.

The reflective "Snowflakes" sees Jack as school choirboy under the spotlight, while recent releases "Embers" and "The Day I Died" are the strongest stage performances. The high point is when Jack pulls out a mouth piano in the middle of "No Time" and breaks into the riff of Mylo's "Drop The Pressure". The trite little joke becomes an outright party anthem as the band echoes the riff, before falling back into the track.

Part of his appeal is the honesty which dominates his lyrics, deliveredhere with grandiose, theatrical gesticulations. Numerous facial expressions throughout pinpoint the emotions of a teenager, right through to the man onstage who looks gleefully happy he's made it here. Encoring with "Goth in the Disco", Jack ensures the crowd leave gleefully upbeat. By the end, you want more, but it's a shame it took until halfway through the set to master the venue completely. Modern-day rakish charm lost its appeal? Not a bit.

Touring to 17 November (www.myspace.com/justjackuk)

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