Music Critic Sammy Andrews reviews Jamie T’s Birmingham show at the O2 Academy on the 11th of November, describing it as ‘a nostalgia-fuelled night’
I think that anyone who grew up listening to indie music has grown up with Jamie T as the soundtrack to their teen years: a coming-of-age icon for our generation. I remember hearing rumours around school of when he would come back after his 2016 album Trick, and ‘Zombie’ was a staple for any party. But no place have I ever felt this presence of Jamie T’s generational importance than I did whilst watching him at the O2 Academy. More so, should I say, than watching the crowd and seeing just how important he has been in their lives, all culminating in that moment, in that room and at that show.
This anxious mythology surrounding his eventual comeback ultimately found itself realised this year, with Jamie’s release of The Theory of Whatever in July. Six years along from Trick, you could feel this anticipation pulse throughout the room with fans chanting ‘Jamie f****ing T’ prior to him walking on stage. The chants built to a euphoric entrance with the acoustic ‘Brand New Bass Guitar’ and the force of the full band in ‘Operation’ – two throwback tracks that propelled the crowd into a tour-de-force of nostalgia.
This did not miss a beat throughout the entire set from either end. Jamie’s interaction with the crowd was as if he was right there with them. From throwing his drink into the crowd for ‘So Lonely Was the Ballad’ to his direct interaction with the audience in ‘Rabbit Hole,’ the relationship between him and his fans was incredible to witness. A momentous atmosphere only further heightened with the crowd’s word for word singing of songs like ‘Back in the Game.’
This nostalgia fuelled night is not to say that Jamie T did not give his new music an opportunity to shine. Anthemic tracks from The Theory of Whatever like ‘90s Cars’ and ‘The Old Style Raiders’ kept the crowd’s energy uplifted whilst giving Jamie a chance to show off what he is capable of.
This being said, there was a distinct magic in hearing the older tracks that no new attempt quite lived up to – nothing could capture the essence of the crowd’s younger selves better than the closing tracks of the set. Ending the setlist on ‘If You’ve Got the Money,’ the sheer excitement exploded out into the encore of ‘Sheila,’ ‘Sticks N Stones’ and ‘Zombie.’ A high energy end to a high energy set, both Jamie and the crowd seemed to love every single second of it.
I always have apprehension when artists from my teen years come back – it seems unrealistic to expect that they would mean as much as they did then. But standing at that show, Jamie T proved his unrelenting position, offering a set of largely older tracks but a selection of new ones that affirm he is not going anywhere soon. But most importantly, he gave the crowd a show to be reckoned with, and allowed them to step back into their teenage selves for a couple of hours.
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