By Will Bateman
Jamie T submerged from the London streets in 2007 as a scruffy, gap-toothed,Kronenbourg-swigging street-poet with Panic Prevention. After 5 long years of excruciating silence after 2009’s Kings and Queens, he takes to the stage to a sold-out Alexandra Palace to promote the recent release of his reflective and matured third album Carry On The Grudge. Diving straight in with album opener ‘Limit’s Lie’, and met with a roar applause and relief from a 10,000 strong crowd of dedicated fans, who had been waiting patiently and singing along every word. It’s as if Jamie never left.
Not one to return empty handed, Jamie takes the opportunity to showcase a good deal of Carry On The Grudge material. Wasting no time moving straight into lead single, ‘Don’t You Find’, which manages to keep it’s synth-based melancholy, while generating a healthy anthem-like singalong atmosphere. Later in the set he showcases the optimistic love ballad ‘Love Is Only A Heartbeat Away’ and the haunting ‘They Told Me It Rained’, for which he was joined onstage by singer Hollie Cook.
Back with the release of his Mercury-nominated debut album, he was relentlessly compared to Arctic Monkeys, Mike Skinner and Joe Strummer. After his extended hiatus, Jamie’s comparisons with the Clash frontman have become increasingly appropriate and justified. His new material leans towards a more traditional rock sound, his maintaining of a sweet-spot between raw shambolic punk energy and the restraint of a seasoned pro. His pumping left leg during high tempo fan favourites ‘Sheila’, ‘If You Got The Money’ and his mental-state confessional ‘Peter’ suggest his time off was less than relaxing.
While the likes of ‘Stick n’ Stones’, ‘368’ and ‘The Man’s Machine’ inevitably receiving the biggest response. The vigour of new tracks ‘Zombie’ and ‘Rabbit Hole’ fit in seamlessly with an almost equally raucous response. The set’s highlights however are found when Jamie shifts gears to solo performances of ‘Calm Down Dearest’, ‘Emily’s Heart’, Back In The Game’ and new addition of low tempo ‘The Prophet’. These show signs of maturity yet a nostalgic reminiscence of the early acoustic bass guitar days.
Always one to do things on his terms since playing London pubs in his teens,, Jamie T’s long-awaited simplistic but honest live return sees him securing himself as one of the most raw and genuine British talents of recent years. After breathing a sigh of relief the lyrics come to mind- “He’s back in game. Thought he was done, man. Thought he was finished. But he’s back up again”.