Live Music + Gig Reviews

Jamie T @ Academy, Sheffield

21 January 2010

It’s been a long time coming, Jamie Treays’ return to Sheffield. Originally scheduled for October, the Wimbledon troubadour was forced to cancel the tour after coming down with a bout of laryngitis.

Thus the atmosphere in the Academy seems anticipatory, boisterous and sometimes aggressive – with beer chucking and tiresome chants of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire”, it’s more akin to a football derby than a gig.
In fact, the roar that accompanies Treays’ saunter onto stage doesn’t let up for the entire gig – every word is bellowed back, burly men hug their friends and jump up and down, and you sometimes can’t see the stage for the amount of hands waving in the air. It’s as if the crowd are acclaiming an all conquering hero, rather than a skinny bloke from London with two albums to his name.

Kings And Queens, Treays’ second album, was one of the highlights of the year, a record that refined his sound and showed off a new maturity without losing that exciting edge that made his early singles so vital. He’s come a long way since those early demos – where early gigs would be performed with just an acoustic bass guitar for accompaniment, these days he has a full backing band, The Pacemakers, to flesh out his sound.

The Man Machine, one of Kings And Queens’ highlights, makes for the perfect opener – soaring and anthemic, with the obligatory lyrical flair that Jamie T has made his own. The entire Academy seems to be swaying and singing along. It’s followed quickly by So Lonely Was The Ballad, an early classic which Treays puts his heart and soul into, stalking round the stage like a man possessed before causing the bouncers some anxiety by diving into the crowd.

The setlist is pretty evenly split between the two albums, although there’s some disappointment that tracks like Ike & Tina, Salvador and especially Calm Down Dearest can’t be fitted in – especially with a set that lasts barely an hour, and filler EP tracks like Dance Of The Young Professionals being preferred.

The obligatory acoustic section is a bit of a mixed blessing too – while Back In The Game and Emily’s Heart are two of his best songs, they’re ruined by the boisterous crowd growing impatient and chatting all the way through. They’re obviously waiting for the more singalong moments such as Sheila – which sounds oddly strained and perfunctory tonight.

If You’ve Got The Money is far more successful, providing one of the evening’s great singalong moments, while the double-whammy of Chaka Demus and an exhilarating Sticks And Stones makes for a blistering encore. The people of Sheffield certainly went away happy enough, but next time a longer running time would be appreciated.

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