south Londoner brings the bounce to a rambunctious night of indie rock

Ten minutes before Jamie T took to the stage for his 95-minute set at a house-full Alexandra Palace, the latecomers were getting out of hand. As several hundred people attempted to move from the food court to the main hall, the lack of access began to cause friction. “This is bulls–t,” said one concert-goer, trapped against a wall. “Calm down,” said his friend, “it’ll be worth it”. Upstairs, the ladies had crashed the gentlemen’s toilets. “We’re smashing the patriarchy,” one interloper said. “Because if we don’t,” said her friend, “we’ll miss Jamie T”.

With a resume that encompassed punk, indie rock and a loose-fitting variant of hip hop, over the course of five studio albums the 36-year-old Jamie T has fashioned a vocabulary with which to describe city life in a manner that is both vibrant and resolute. “Sheila goes out with her mate Stella, it gets poured all over a fella,” he sang during a three-song encore that managed to encompass both a night out in a teeming metropolis and the state of a proportion of his audience in the “People’s Palace” of suburban north London. In front of the stage, young women were sat atop the shoulders of their boyfriends. Ropes of lager arced into the air.

Despite the hoopla, though, Jamie T – dressed in jeans, a denim jacket and a black baseball cap – isn’t an especially charismatic performer. Even when beamed onto a giant screen positioned on either side of a vast stage, one could reasonably wonder if the 36-year-old was at all aware of the manic audience that had paid £35 to see him. 

When at last he did address the 10,000 people crammed into one of the loveliest venues in the capital, it was only to remind them to look after one another. At other times, he seemed content to crack jokes. Certainly, the claim that his backing group “is the tightest band in the world” can’t possibly have been serious.

While at times – during Back in the Game, say, or Between the Rocks – the night took flight in a manner that seemed designed to electrify, elsewhere, problems of stuttering momentum were highlighted by long pauses between songs that suggested a jam session in a smoke-filled flat in the headliners’ home of Wimbledon that had somehow spilled out into a public gathering. 

After more than 15 years on the scene, one could argue that it is to Jamie T’s credit that the dividing line between artist and audience is all but invisible. But in terms of projecting himself into the nooks and crannies of one of the largest indoor venues in the city, the star turn still has much to learn.

Jamie T is on tour in the UK until October 22; tickets:

Recommended For You