Photo credit to India Whiley-Morton
Mixing snappy lyricism and brass-knuckled beats, Jamie T made his name among the scattering of street poets, who put brought the everyday trivialities of modern city living to life. But half a decade on and things have moved on a little. Gone are the Mike Skinner’s and Dizzee Rascal’s of the world, replaced instead by the likes of Kate Tempest and King Krule.
Tonight marks a momentous evening for Jamie T as the once likely lad of the music business plays the first of a run of sold out shows at Alexandra Palace. Returning after five years away from the limelight, Jamie’s current incarnation is of an artist much more comfortable with his own maturity. And that’s a lot to be said for an artist whose bad boy demeanour made him a favourite amongst the scrappy lads of Britain’s pubs. Tonight, he’s at Joe Strummer’s level of greatness – commanding the stage with all the audacious attitude of his youth, but the comfort of an artist in his prime.
After two incredible albums Panic Prevention and Kings & Queens, Jamie’s time away has led him to move away from the bohemia of his past self. Today, the 28-year-old is as much the urban realist he once was, but gone is the egotism and aggression. On his third record, Carry On The Grudge, we’re introduced to a much more thoughtful Jamie.
Lad culture has moved on a long way since Jamie was last around – half a decade later, the city boys who counted themselves as the original Jamie fans have all moved into the labour market. The audience tonight is a strange mix of this old crowd and much younger faces – inevitably those who’ve discovered Jamie in the years he’s been gone. But together they blend well. Obviously these Jamie T gigs were going to be energetic ones, but the crowd is caring, and the feeling in the audience is a warm one. New tracks, “Zombie” and “Don’t You Find” hold audiences as well as old favourites – and sit comfortably alongside the likes of “Spider’s Web” and “368”.
The pinnacle of the evening comes when Jamie performs solo under a spotlight. Shifting comfortably through “Emily’s Heart” and “Back In The Game”, he commands Alexandra Palace with complete and utter grace.
Moving away from the stories, swagger and attitude that made his name, Jamie’s now a mature, full-bodied 28-year-old, and inevitably the troubles and concerns of half a decade ago aren’t the same ones as the Wimbledon native is facing now. His London return is a charming and touching experience.