Photographs by Sarah Rix.
“It’s my birthday!” Screamed an audience member we’d later come to know as Alison. Jamie threw her a look from the stage; a gobby, arrogant smirk. And then as brash as you like, he replied, “So? Everyone’s got one of those. What do you want, a medal or something?”
After a five year hiatus, we’re seeing Jamie T at his very best now. As a frontman, he’s as cool as you like – rockstar moves (which he admitted during the show that he might have picked up on a journey up his own arse), a pushy charisma, and all that cockney charm that you only inherit if you’ve spent your youth on the south side of the Thames. And as a songwriter he’s at the very top of his game, too. His new release, ‘Carry On The Grudge,’ was as highly anticipated as it is now being widely praised.
New tracks ‘Limits Lie’ and ‘Don’t You Find’ opened the set at the Mod Club, and they went over like old favourites. The crowd sang along and grew in energy and enthusiasm as the show banged on, and a little mosh area formed too. Jamie played to it, and played it up. He sang from his knees, he played guitar in people’s faces, and he addressed the audience time and again; he made them a part of the show. He was as good as it gets in terms of a frontman, and he’s probably one of the best ones I’ve seen in a long time. He’s really grown into himself since he’s been gone, and the absence has clearly done him a world of good.
The place more or less erupted when Jamie T – backed by his band, The Pacemakers, who also deserve credit for being excellent – played tracks from his earlier albums. ‘Sticks ‘N’ Stones,’ ‘The Man’s Machine,’ and from Jamie T’s first album, ‘If You Got The Money’ stood out as highlights.
My favourite part of the show, though, came in the middle of the set when Jamie T explained that his next song was written by Townes Van Zandt. My ears did a double take. Townes? Jamie T? What? And then he played one of my favourite songs, ‘Waiting Around To Die.’ It seemed that very few other people in the venue recognized it, but I loved it all the same. Really nice touch, and it just shows how eclectic the influences are that Jamie T pulls from.
It was a night that began with nervous anticipation and hopeful exuberance; I think the whole audience hoped that after five years Jamie T would be as good as we remembered him being. He wasn’t. He was far, far better. Hopefully he won’t make us wait so long ever again.