Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jamie T at Amsterdam's Melkweg

The first time I saw Jamie T was in Sydney's Kings Cross, at Candy's Apartment – a low ceiling basement, jam-packed with up-to-speed Brit backpackers and in-the-know locals not a month after his first album had been released. Jamie took the small stage with only a borrowed acoustic bass guitar. It didn't stop the kids from moshing and crowd surfing - The upstart's urgent, thrashy style transcends instruments, it could have been a ukulele and we'd have still got those scuzzy Pommy pumas in our faces.
The next time was at the Gaelic Club. Word had got round and Jamie had got a band, The Pacemakers. The show this time was a raucous punk show, loose and youthful. T's brash accent spat rhymes like the beer he sprayed on the crowd and everyone was up for it. Panic Prevention was filled with chant-a-longs and a chance for everyone, travellers and locals alike, to become unashamed geezers, from our "screams calling 'London!'" to his cover of Billy Bragg's 'A New England'. He's visited more recent - read these Sydney reviews: Metro & Gaelic Club

For me, three years on and Jamie T and the Pacemakers play Melkweg's Oude Zaal, sold out. Seemingly the support act didn't turn up, giving much time for the packed crowd to get beers under belts before a rowdy night. Jamie, however, starts mellow with 'Emily's Heart' (see the very sweet video below), an acoustic cut from new album 'Kings and Queens' (reviewed here by Bobby Six).

'Atlantic City', a Bruce Springsteen cover follows that may have gone over the heads of kids down the front but hit the balcony of elders (we had a great view). Out to prove his worth and longevity on the second go-round, 'Kings and Queens' brings a more mature side to this Wimbledon youf. Whether he's covering them or just acknowledging them, you can hear the Troubadours before him: Dylan, The Boss, Strummer, Billy Bragg, and Skinner. And when the band kicks you've got the Clash, Beastie Boys and Rancid on up-rocked ska and grinding organs.

Highlights through the set include the 'oh ohs' of 'Chaka Demus', the Balkan ska of 'Dance of the Young Professionals', the back-chat of 'If You Got The Money' and of course 'Shelia'. The Encore, as well as The Clash's '1977', saw Jamie play a double time thrash version of 'Salvador' and cleared the dancefloor for an old school circle pit for the guys. Not to be outdone, two handbag-embracing girls hopped the stage for a skank as Jamie sang 'the ladies dance'. They crowd surfed off without sight of security. Well - that only added fuel to a fire. Photobucket Closing with the ska-punk of 'Sticks and Stones' turned the circle pit into a frothing mosh until that girl again jumped on stage. Then a girl from the left side. Then a dude in the middle. The three more on the right. Before long the stage was invaded by drunken teenagers as surely Jamie's did in his youth. The star steps aside and lets chaos reign and the kids taste the limelight as more and more clear the pit for momentary fame: front and centre, at the guitarist's mic, on the drum and keyboard risers. Forty people maybe.

It's this energy, frustrated and angsty, rough and tumble, raw and rebel-rousing that Jamie brings to an indie scene too often filled with acts polished and packaged before the ink has even dried on a contract.

An Interview with Jamie T

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