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Concert Review by Nick Morgan

JAMIE-T The Astoria, London, January 24th 2007

It was when the group of intimidating thick-set lager-drinking heavyweights in front of us starting snorting huge amounts of coke from their clenched fists that I really thought we might be in for a rough time. They’d already serenaded the surrounding crowd with menacing football chants as the stage was being reset and now they looked totally out of control, falling around to a wild ‘Ike and Tina’. On stage, mop haired in an unprepossessing blue sports shirt Jamie T (or Jaime Treays to give him his full name) has been kicking up a riot since the first few bars of rockabilly infused ‘Brand new bass guitar’ half an hour before. There are more beer cans flying through the air (most, but not all, in the direction of the stage) than there really should be, and behind me there’s a gang of shrieking girls, well … shrieking and taking photographs of themselves. Actually they shriek most of the night. Duff
Jamie T I was lucky to hear some of young (he’s 20, which reminds me that although we did see a mum and embarrassed daughter when we left I do believe that this time I was the oldest person in the Pickle Factory) Jamie’s demo tapes about eighteen months ago and was immediately struck by his huge talent. He was accompanying himself on his bashed-up four string acoustic bass guitar, and there may have been some percussion, but songs like Salvador really stood out as being different, not just for the content of the lyrics but the rhythmical structures that they weave.
It’s a compelling and dizzee fusion of playground chants, music-hall ditties, Chas and Dave, ska and rap, played to a remorseless and driving drums and bass punk beat. That’s my take – have a look at the cleverly-composed cover of his new album to see where Jamie thinks his influences lie. Live on stage with a band his music may lose some of its complexity and subtlety, but none of its infectious rhythm. And it’s hot – ‘Calm down dearest’ his new single charted at No 2 a couple of weeks ago thanks to downloads; his debut album Panic Prevention was released on January 29th. And it goes without saying that the Astoria is heaving.
Jamie’s lyrics very much reflect the zeitgeist of the twenty year old south Londoner that he is, but there is a hidden and knowing maturity to many of the songs that you might not pick up at first hearing. There’s certainly too much drinking, too many drugs, too many cigarettes, not enough sleep, and there are lots of girls of one sort or another who behave like ‘Sheila’ - “Drunk, she stumbles down by a river, screams calling London”.
I begin to think that most of the shrieking girls (they’re not just behind me, they’re all over the bloody place) might be called Sheila, though it’s sadly pretty clear that the irony of songs like this or ‘Operation’ are lost on a large part of the audience, for tonight at least. But Jamie just spits out his lyrics like a machine gun – with almost perfect enunciation as he works his way through twelve songs before returning with another four more. Jamie-T
I have to say I most enjoyed ‘Operation’ ‘Ike and Tina’ and ‘Northern Line’, but would also have to confess we missed the encore as we decided to make a break for safety half way through ‘Salvador’.
Something will have to go very wrong in Jamie T’s career to prevent him being around for some time. Unlike the rather contrived Mika (who currently heads the UK singles charts with ‘Grace Kelly’) this young man has a depth of vision, an ability with words and just substance that should mean he remains a fixture on the music scene for some time. So long as he can keep on dodging the beer cans. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)

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