Friday, 13 March 2009

Jamie T, Oxford Academy 2, 02.03.09

(Note: yes, I am aware that this is a bit late. Bear with me, though; I've barely had time to breathe between then and now)

Oxford's Academy 2 seems a slightly strange place to be watching Wimbledon's Jamie T. While satisfactorily intimate, the venue carries a slight yet inescapable arua of the church youth club, which feels a little ill-suited to tales of binge drinking, uppers and Lahndan-tahn debauchery. No matter, though: Treays takes to the stage looking triumphant regardless. The cocky bugger.

Opening with the raucous 'Operation', Jamie T - along with four-piece backing band the Pacemakers - unleashes a rattling run-through of a genre-melding 70-minute set which barely drops its pace below a sprint.

Ostensibly an excuse to try out new tracks live, the five songs previewed tonight suggest that Treays's as-yet untitled second album will take a slightly different tangent from his critically-celebrated debut. 'Sticks and Stones' hints at a move towards a more conventional verse-chorus-verse song structure, while '368' is almost approaching anthemic and encore track 'Emily's Heart' is far softer and sweeter than anything he's released to date.

New album in the pipeline or not, this was never really about hearing something about new - a fact more than underlined by the rapturous reception received by the Panic Prevention tracks, which are here in abundance. 'Sheila' may be the "one track" which Treays has become instantly associated with, but the reception of album tracks such as 'Ike and Tina' almost rivals the likes of 'Calm Down Dearest'. And by the time he reaches 'If You Got the Money', you can barely hear Treays's vocals.

What's most striking about the performance, ironically, is how well-honed it is. It's occasionally shonky and more than frequently off-kilter, but it's a ramshackleness which belies a tight musicianship; the sprawling 'Alicia Quays' sounds vastly improved from 18 months ago. Clearly the downtime has been put to good use, then.

Leaving the stage amid a flood of promises that such a disappearance from the live scene won't be repeated any time soon, you can't help but think that maybe that first look of triumph wasn't self-knowing, after all. A cocky bugger? Certainly. Justifiably so? After a performance like tonight's, it's hard not to think that this may just be the case.

Emily's Heart (rough quality)


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