In true Jamie T fashion, I chugged up the Northern Line brimming with capped kids with ‘four-packs’ in hand – an atmosphere of young anarchy accompanying every mouthful of beaming youth. The urban poet of every ‘10-a-day-little-s**t’ is back, telling bittersweet stories of romance and death and drugs and Stella. Behind every pulsating back-beat, every inch of careless swagger and throat-burning snarls at the do’s and don’ts of society, lies a character so in tune with the ‘Sheila’s’ and the ‘Jack’s’ of this world that without him, a voice of a generation was lost. Tonight, a cold Monday in Newcastle, that voice was back, and in my opinion, better than ever with the darker, more fatalistic energy of ‘Carry On The Grudge’.
Opening Kent duo Slaves provided a brilliant – if slightly baffling – stage presence that instantly won over the crowd. Chugging out fast, hard punk tunes that had the crowd lurching, they delivered a messy display instigating a hunger for more. A reckless fizz then filled the room as Jamie T arrived on stage, the kind of energy that originates from un-fulfilled ‘twenty somethings’ that finally get to see the last of their bedroom-indie heroes live. Amidst the chant of “Jamie T! Jamie T!”, the twenty-eight year old lets out a comforting grin and assumes a stage presence that eliminates any sense of doubt. Cocksure, but with a vulnerability that makes him all the more sweet.
The opening of “Limits Lie” and “Don’t You Find” highlight the crowd’s appreciation for the new album Carry On The Grudge, and showcase Jamie’s raw vocals and musical ability. Pounding pop-punk beats ricochet of every crevice of the O2, as young boys and girls pour their heart out to classics such as “Operation” and “The Man’s Machine” – as if the songs have enlisted their life story. Frenzy ensures as Jamie verbally hugs the crowd with an “It’s good to be back”. “Emily’s Heart” is sung with a teary-eyed passion by both artist and crowd a-like, before the hollering, grab-your-mate, anthems of “If You’ve Got The Money” and the famous “Sheila” ensure careless chaos; Jamie T manically grins whilst adding: “just remember, If someone falls down, pick ‘em back up”.
The shifting beats of “Calm Down Dearest” acts as the first song of the encore, presented in a stripped-back manner, fans lapping their tongues around every thought provoking lyric, before the venue then becomes a manic dance floor for new single “Zombie” and classic old-timer “Sticks & Stones” – in which fans raucously cheer for and commemorate good times. A display of crowd surfing and beer-throwing fans losing themselves to the music; a pinnacle of what every good rock ‘n’ roll show should be.
“Whatever happened to Jamie T?” you once might have asked. Although the more haunting lyrics and darker undertones of most recent album Carry On The Grudge might resemble some dark days for Jamie T, tonight has shown that the future is bright. Jamie’s slack-jaw, ‘rough around the edges’ style might mean he doesn’t cut through mainstream in a more easy manner such as artists like Ed Sheeran, but he appeals to those who need more than a throw-away line about a failed romance or a love cliché, those who need someone to speak to them in a more interesting way, to not only scrape the barrel of their most hidden paranoia, but to cut straight through it. A musical genius wrapped in his own demons he may be, but the umbilical connection he has with his fans still remains, and is tighter than ever. This wasn’t just a gig; it was a statement of intent.
Purchase: Jamie T – Carry On The Grudge (iTunes)