LIVE: Jamie T, Leeds Academy, 8.11.2014

by - Monday, November 17, 2014

Fighting my way through a sea of greased back hair and oversized denim, I can see that tonight’s sold-out show is going to be a rowdy one. Five years away has done nothing to dim the popularity of one Jamie Treays - the average age of the audience suggests more than a few have been lured in my the success of his impressive new record Carry On The Grudge, probably only in their pre-teens when he was snarling his way through Wimbledon first time around. However, tonight is about more than the music - it’s a saturday night, and the need to party is palpable.

When Slaves arrive, I wonder for a second if I'm about to be treated to some Dapper Laughs stand up. However, from the first careering crash of their stand-up-drum and guitar combo, it's pretty obvious that they're more madcap than misogyny. Their austere pie'n' mash, halloweeny helter-skelter punk is occasionally heavy-handed, but drummer Isaac Holman's best Sex Pistols impression is oddly watchable, sinister yet likeably cartoonish. Take 'Where's Your Car Debbie', which is apparently a 'laaavely' song about protecting a girl from a Sasquatch. As you were. Much like Gallows before them, there's no denying that their formidable stage presence will offer them something of a cult-like celebrity, with inevitable fame and a spot on the NME Cool List to boot. Ones to watch, without a doubt.

As Jamie T himself shuffles on stage in a beat-up kagoule and a baseball cap, the place erupts in a
way that really shouldn't suit a man of his initial appearance, but is altogether justified as he roars through new album opener, 'Limits Lie'. It appears a few audience members have reached their own limits - reviewing takes a back seat as I avoid the bunch of coked-up lads trying to grope passing girl's bums, try not to look at the bloke with his hands down his girlfriends tights and lean as far away from possible from a drunk girl who promptly spills her WKD cocktail concoction down my back. Luckily, my drenched back evaporates quickly with the heat in the room - old classics Salvador and 368 sound incredible, while new favourite ‘Don’t You Find’ is hollered back with an intensity normally reserved for ‘If You Got The Money’ or ‘Sticks N Stones’.

At the helm of the fracas, Jamie looks as if he's enjoying himself. He speaks very little compared to his last tour back in 2009, perhaps a sign of his increasing social anxiety or perhaps just because he is overawed at the reception he is getting after so long away. It's obvious that he has grown older in the same way his music has - more cautious, less inclined to throw out the punchlines so easily. The setlist is understandably heavy with new material, but it blends well, the album artwork backdrop falling halfway through ‘The Man’s Machine’ to signal the change of pace. New material and old sounds faultless, every spat lyric echoed back in earnest by the crowd.

Despite the rabble rousing, a quiet interlude of 'Emily's Heart' and new slowy ‘Love Is Only A
Heartbeat Away' get the hushed respect so often lacking at gigs like this, a devoted singalong with pints aloft. It’s become painfully clear that this is not a refined audience - people are openly racking up lines, indulging in drunken foreplay that would be better confined to a bedroom, swaying with their eyes closed in a chemical-induced fact, in a bizarre twist of fate, every single Jamie T character, good and ugly, is played out here for all to see. Sheila's 'clean young mess’ is being held up by Top Banana Martha near the sounddesk, Boozy Susie is perched on the shoulders of Smack Jack The Crackerman...even Jamie's fucked-up alter ego, Peter, is flicking his ash and staring menacingly at the bloke in fronts girlfriend. It's like a fan convention has broken out in the middle of leeds, a twisted fairytale songbook of social observation brought to life. Perhaps this depraved rave is exactly what our reluctant star has been waiting for. Far from the most comforting of environments, but then, Jamie T never was famed for his sweetness and light. Welcome back to the dark side lad, we've missed you.

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  1. Really enjoyed this read, well done! I've loved Jamie T for years and very jealous of you seeing him live. You've managed to capture not just the atmosphere of the gig but Jamie's attitude and emotions towards it.