Review: Jamie T at O2 Guildhall, Southampton (31/10/2014)

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Jamie T is well and truly back. The South London singer-songwriter has been seemingly hiding in Wimbledon since the release of his sophmore album Kings & Queens in 2009. He returned with secret sets at numerous festivals, and a brand new album, Carry On The Grudge, welcoming him back to a slightly different music scene than when he left. At the time of his second album release he was a musician to cherish, a rare talent with an attitude and political opinion to boot. In his absence his sound has developed, becoming more refined and glossy with either age and maturity, or a, however forced, shove by his record label Virgin. Steering away from any slight, dare I say, hip-hop influences in his previous album, his focus on solid rock is both boring and uninspired, with his deliverance of latest single ‘Zombie’ becoming merely ironic.

As a venue, O2 Guildhall is perhaps one of the worst in the UK that I have visited so far. I detest it with a passion and even hoped that with the recent corporate purchasing of the venue they might ruin the architecture enough for the sound quality to be tolerable. A beautiful, historical venue that makes any modern day amplified music sound like dirt that has been ground into that awful carpet that lines the floor of the venue. A venue that is similar in so many ways to Alexandra Palace in London falls so far short. Overall, if a band you truly love is coming to O2 Guildhall, purchase train tickets to their Portsmouth, Bournemouth, London, even Glasgow date, it’s worth the hassle.

Support act, Slaves, were the saviours of the evening. An absolutely awesome performance from the Kent-born duo, who’s hard garage punk sound is infectious and entertaining. The majority of their time on stage was spent successfully interacting with an audience that didn’t know who they were. They introduced each song they played with a little story, containing the lyrics from the song they were about to play. Indeed the story behind ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ lasted longer than their rendition. Overall, a stellar performance from a band who are ones to watch for 2015. With their debut album already released in 2012, they are well accustomed to being on stage, and have the presence and interest to prove this.

Jamie T took to the stage five minutes late, and it didn’t get better from there. Although the performance of all his tracks were musically strong, and the crowd were almost scary in their cult-like worship of him, my overarching feeling that a man who used to be so anti-capitalist, so strong in his beliefs against the government, should not be performing in a colonial venue built by slavery which is owned by one of the biggest telecommunications companies in Europe. The concert on the whole felt wrong, and I am very unsure about whether Jamie is aware of his own startling hypocrisy.

The main tracks that peaked my attention were ‘Emily’s Heart’, ‘Hocus Pocus’ and ‘Chaka Demus’, along with the obvious ‘Zombie’ and ‘Sticks ‘n’ Stones’. His new tracks blurred into one monotonous song that had the surrounding ‘lads’ jumping like hooligans spilling the beer they clung to in each hand. Treays hurtled through the set list, barely stopping between tracks and speaking minimally with the hordes of crazed fans stretching out before him.

In conclusion, disappointing, and I’m still waiting for someone to fill the place he left behind when he decided to steer away from the rap element of his music. The rawness and uniqueness of his older songs will be missed, but as a successful musician he can’t write about being a struggling musician or living life on the streets anymore. But perhaps a song about five star hotels and champagne wouldn’t go down quite as well with his fan base?

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Head of Events for The Edge magazine. Keen concert goer and angry feminist. Shared recycled oxygen on a 12 hour flight with Foals.

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