Tensions are high for Jamie T‘s first London show after a four year hiatus, a couple of small preview shows aside. In his time away the Wimbledon wonder wrote over 180 songs for his newest album, Carry On The Grudge, before whittling them down to the final 12 – and returning with a sound far more reflective than that which earned him his followers in the first place, way back in the halcyon days of 2007 when he sang a song called Sheila.
This new iteration is a more personal, contemplative sound, full of slow-build melodies and snappy guitar hooks, but live he still comes across like a young Alex Turner; all brattish arrogance, albeit delivered in a heavy Laaaaaahndan accent.
Opener Limits Lie, from the recent LP, starts the night off on a high. He keeps a steady momentum with Don’t You Find, Turn On The Light and British Intelligence, played with not much comment from Jamie himself. Yet the lack of chatter was somehow appropriate tonight with his new, more heartfelt, songs doing the talking for him.
While the majority of the show hurtles along without a dull moment, things really pick up near the end of the set when fan favourite 368 is played. Here, he practically transforms into Joe Strummer in front of the audience’s very eyes – he’s raw and passionate; dripping with punk attitude. If You Got The Money is a further example of how he can hold an audience in the palm of his hand, enraptured by his lyrics about young lust and chaotic nights out.
In time honoured fashion, he leaves his best songs for the encore – Calm Down Dearest makes you think he could survive show to show with just his guitar for company. Troublemaker hit Sticks n Stones closes the show without a hitch, lyrics like “It’s the only place but home I feel relaxed enough to crap/I know it sounds crude, but there’s somethin’ in that” is a charming reminder of the cheeky lyrics he’s best known for.
Penultimate track Zombie is Jamie’s new single and the best song of the night – it’s impossible not to join in with the 10,000 strong crowd singing along to the infectious rhymes: “I’m a sad sad post teen/Could have been a love machine,” Perhaps the best UK punk song of 2014, its video takes the title literally and sees Jamie slowly turning into a zombie, ending with his head being ripped off his body. Undead he may have ended up, but Jamie T’s performance tonight proved that punk is certainly not expired – it is in fact alive and well, and thriving off a healthy dose of well judged cockiness.