When Jamie T returned to the live scene after a 4 year absence this summer it felt like more than just a relief to that occasional question of “Whatever happened to him?!”, juxtaposed next to a Youtube link to ‘Sheila‘ on Facebook. It felt like a relief to British music in general. One of the most talked about gigs of the year took place at the Kazimier in July; a gig where the atmosphere was described by the Guardian as “the sort of energy you imagine was present when the Clash played the Roxy or at the birth of rock’n’roll itself.” It is becoming then, that Jamie should return to the city for the last show of this UK run, and be met with a cult-like appreciation, as if we’re witnessing a defining moment of British music before our very own eyes.
The support for the night came from a band called ‘Slaves’. The garage-punk duo have been making the rounds on Radio 1 lately with Zane Lowe quite loyally behind them in particular. The band recently performed on Later with Jools Holland and received Bono’s seal of approval, and tonight it’s plain to see what all the buzz is about. Suited up from head to toe, the pair succeed in making a terrible racket in the best possible way. Crowd favourites were ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?‘ and ‘Hey‘, along with a 15 second song with a 2 minute introduction called ‘Girl Fight‘. The duo didn’t look like a support band by the end of the set, with the singer/drummer Isaac bleeding confidence and authority behind not only his manic stage presence but also in his drumming style which sounds like anarchy personified.
But now, what everyone is here for. After 15 minutes of on-off chants of “Jamie.. Jamie” and 15 minutes of impatient abuse hurled at the stage, the singer finally appeared. Launching into the opening song of his new album, ‘Carry On The Grudge’, the room becomes instantly electric. It’s a rare thing to see a crowd know every word to an artist’s new material, but it’s also rare to see an artist so relatable to his audience. Sporting the same adidas as seen on the 2009 cover of his last album, Kings & Queens, the South London singer mixes intricate tales of urban poverty and love in ‘The Prophet‘ with inner-city anxiety in songs like ‘Spider’s Web‘, as the crowd are so endeared they shout every nuance and clap at every silence.
Unable to keep the smirk from his face as the room recognises throwbacks like ‘Salvador‘ and ‘Operation‘ from their opening chords, Jamie makes things more intimate halfway through the set as he sits down for an acoustic go at ‘Emily’s Heart‘, apologising for the loss of his voice as if anyone could hear it over the 1000 people screaming the words like their life depended on it. Before launching into the most poignant song of the night, the singer convincingly confesses his love for the city of Liverpool, telling of how he is considering a move here, as the audience have no choice now but to submit to the appropriateness of ‘Back In The Game‘.
Usually, in a set that lasts 90 minutes you would assume at least 2 or 3 moments when the atmosphere would dwindle under an under-appreciated track or just a complete burnout of energy. But not at a Jamie T gig. From the entrance to the encore, the singer appeared more than comfortable to be back on stage, pausing for a moment during his latest hit ‘Zombie‘ to take it all in before propelling into what is sure to be an indie anthem for years to come. Ending the night with ‘Sticks ‘n’ Stones‘ the crowd was at it’s most barbaric, desperate to enjoy the moment as much as is humanly possible, and their motive was clear; we just can’t afford to lose him again.