“I haven’t done this for a while,” says Jamie T as he frees his microphone from its stand and steps to the front of the stage. “I feel like I might have a heart attack. That’ll be one for you to remember, you can tell all your friends ‘I was there’.” Then, that first familiar note of ‘Sheila’ kicks in and the reaction is enough to sooth even the most brutal of anxiety attacks, teens quickly forming a heaving moshpit as they scream back every word, including the song’s samples.
It’s not even eight o’clock when Jamie and his band walk on stage at Kingston Hippodrome for a special all ages show before playing the New Slang club night later this evening. The sun might still be shining bright outside, but inside it’s down the business of getting very, very sweaty. Tonight is the first night that he’s played songs from new album ‘Trick‘ and his first live show since Reading 2015. As such, this is an intimate first chance to hear how those new tracks, so brilliant on record, stand up live and a gentle practice run for the group ahead of next month’s UK tour.
The set opens with ‘Tinfoil Boy’, the bruising opener of Jamie’s fourth record. It’s heavier and harder here, but also more playful, with the musician adding dramatic pauses that serve to make the already swirling crush in front of him go even madder. ‘Power Over Men’ is slightly calmer, something to dance to rather than thrash, but is still greeted with equally as much excitement.
Midway through the set, the rest of the band step off stage and leave Jamie alone with his guitar. As he begins playing ‘Sign Of The Times’, one of ‘Trick”s tenderest, most heart-wrenching moments, two girls climb onto their friends’ shoulders, waving their arms in the air in time to the song. By the time the chorus hits, its full on chills – the cluster of fans at the front singing the lines “But I wish I’d been a little more exceptional/And I wish I’d been a little unconventional” so intently is a powerful, beautiful moment.
Elsewhere, there’s a ton of crowdpleasers – the aforementioned ‘Sheila’, fellow ‘Panic Prevention‘ cut ‘Operation’ and ‘Sticks And Stones’, the cider-glugging anthem that references Hampton Wick, one stop along from Kingston. It’s closer ‘Zombie’ that really seals the night in chaotic form, though. Its languid opening lines have fans spreading out and pushing back, preparing to run at each other when it jolts into life. It’s three minutes of pure carnage; a mess of lost shoes abandoned on the sticky floor, flailing bodies and infectious grins. “I fucking love you,” Jamie says just before everything kicks off. The feeling’s clearly mutual.