Jamie T live in London: a hero’s return for the comeback king

Alexandra Palace, November 18: wrapping up his first UK tour in six years, the indie hero shows off the timelessness of his songwriting

A tense staring contest is underway. Kitted out in double denim and with a battered electric guitar in hand, Jamie T has his eyes locked at the centre of the 10,000-strong crowd before him. His competitor? A shirtless, lager-fuelled punter sat atop a friend’s shoulders, who has started singing the shouty opening line of ‘Salvador’ before Jamie T (born Jamie Treays) gets there himself. Treays curves his arm like a baseball player preparing to throw the first pitch, and takes a step forward. “Show me what you’ve fucking got, then!”, he bellows, and Alexandra Palace erupts into bedlam.

The moment feels emblematic of Treays as a whole: reckless, lairy and tender all at once. 15 years after he broke out as a teenage troubadour with his now-seminal debut, ‘Panic Prevention’ – a Mercury-nominated record that vividly detailed the dense psychogeography of Treays’ beloved London hometown – there is an enduring, endearing quality to him that refuses to fade. His fifth album, 2022’s ‘The Theory Of Whatever’ cemented his status as the godfather of British indie; it topped the charts and led to the booking of a headline show at the capital’s Finsbury Park next summer, his biggest gig to date.

While this sold-out UK tour is ostensibly in support of that record, Treays has built a reputation for eclectic, ever-changing setlists peppered with early material and album deep cuts. Tonight is no different. After an almighty roar of “Fucking croissant!” signals the start of ‘Brand New Bass Guitar’, Treays settles with an acoustic guitar, eyes peering inquisitively beneath a black cap. It’s swiftly followed by a handful of crowdpleasers, with the roaring ‘Operation’ rubbing shoulders with a beefed-up ‘90s Cars’, the latter a showcase for Treays’ combative MCing style, as he delivers bars with the enthusiasm of a teenager caught in a playground rap battle.

Credit: Getty/Andrew Benge

Advertisement

The show’s stop-start pacing, however, threatens to deflate a hyped crowd. In between some songs, there are lengthy delays as gear is changed over, and, occasionally, silence. Colossal silence. The nuance of the gorgeous and expansive ‘Don’t You Find’ later gets lost in audience chatter, but the more rambunctious tracks – ‘Rabbit Hole’, ‘If You Got The Money’ – bring the room’s attention back to the stage. During a glorious ‘Sheila’, men on the outskirts of moshpits start thumping their chests so passionately, you’d think they were singing their national anthem.

Sung straight into the mic, the story behind the homespun ‘Back In The Game’ shifts anew: fuelled by the significance of this evening – Treays’ biggest gig following a six-year hiatus – the song transforms into the anthem of the comeback king. “Thought he was done/Man thought he was finished… He’s back up again,” Treays repeats, a mantra that feels profound in his gripping voice. Long may his reign continue.

Jamie T played:

‘Brand New Bass Guitar’
‘Operation’
’90s Cars’
‘So Lonely Was The Ballad’
‘Rabbit Hole’
‘A Million & One New Ways To Die’
‘Don’t You Find’
‘Salvador’
‘Back In The Game’
‘The Old Style Raiders’
‘Limits Lie’
‘Between The Rocks’
‘Spider’s Web’
‘Dragon Bones’
‘The Man’s Machine’
‘If You Got The Money’
‘Sheila’
‘Sticks ‘N’ Stones’
‘Zombie’

Advertisement

More Stories:

Sponsored Stories: