There was a moment in musical history, right before the release of his 2014 album Carry On The Grudge, where fans of the entirely singular Jamie T (Treays) wondered if he would ever return to studios and stages. The roar which rattles the Croxton’s bandroom as he takes to the stage – which has been warmed up nicely by Hockey Dad – for a headline sideshow while in town for Falls Festival, makes it seem as though he never left at all. Perhaps it’s the intimate setting of a sticky carpet venue, maybe it’s the fact that without aircon, the room rises to at least 35 degrees, or maybe it’s the knowledge that a final show of a tour is the kind of one where a band leaves everything they have left on a stage. Whatever the case may be, tonight is that last show of his run of Australian dates and from the moment the set starts up with Power Over Men, it is clear that tonight’s show will be the kind to set all others against for years to come.
There’s a very particular effect Jamie T has and it’s one that sees him (and band) able to play tracks from more recent albums alongside what are now classics and have it all work together seamlessly. That isn’t to say they’re more of the same, rather quite the opposite, but it works. The strut of Power Over Men ebbs into Tescoland, showcasing the growth of Treays’ songwriting over the years. The singalongs began with the very first song, but nothing sounds quite as wonderful as the collective shout of “I ain’t no abacus, but you can count on me!” as Operation flings itself around the room in all its youthful, animated passion. Operation captures precisely the vibe of a Jamie T show – and this one in particular. There’s an inherent jovial sense of togetherness between the bustling of the dancing crowd and the band up on stage, as cool, casual and brazen while remaining polished and entirely insync.
Dragon Bones brings us back to the latest album, Trick, in a wonderfully self-assured, hazy waltz before we slip over to Salvador, one of the stand out singles from debut album, 2007’s Panic Prevention. Ten years after its release and the track still resonates as it reverberates around the room, seeping into the very bones of every king and queen in the club pub. There’s a shot interlude during which The Prophet (and the entire set) is dedicated to drummer Vicky Smith, whose birthday it is this week, along with Jamie’s, quickly before the song starts up “there’s fire in her eyes… you’re like a fucking hurricane next to me” is a fitting testament and the song itself a wonderfully winding reprieve from the fast-paced set as it prompts lighters to lift to the ceiling and bodies to sway gently in a chorus of “oohs”.
The eerie, lamenting Don’t You Find quickly follows with slinky, sliding guitars echoing around the room. It’s hypnotic – all haunting harmonies under blue lights, for an incredible rendition of one of the best songs in Jamie T’s entire discography. Energy is shot back into the crowd with If You Got The Money, 368 and Man’s Machine – a triple threat of nostalgia, inciting excitable sing alongs and some of the most intense movements of the entire evening. It’s Sheila, however, that tugs at the heartstrings, cries of “London!” ringing out as the, quite frankly iconic, track delves into the the space we first met Jamie T: singing of real people and real life – both their bleak and their beauty.
Tinfoil Boy follows, shaking the place down and leaving Sticks and Stones to close out the main set, leaving the room buzzing and rowdy. It’s testament to the kind of performer Jamie T is, that he can slip newer tracks into his set alongside what have become classics, and everything is seamless, each track gaining different but equally excited reactions. Sticks and Stones however, with cries of “three fingers down, the other two up” promoting the crowd to flip off the band gloriously as every ounce of energy is left out on that floor with a messy mix of emotions.
Somehow, both band and punters manage to restart the fire, greeted by Jamie and his acoustic bass for Back In The Game as an encore. There’s one thing missing from the night, and it’s been saved for the very end. The drawl of Zombie starts up and by the end of it, the crowd is left sweaty and sated. The band leaves the stage to a roar of appreciation and adoration and it’s few moments before the lights to turn on. As everyone spills out onto the street to catch the 86, there’s that sensation of camaraderie in the air, as though this has been a particularly memorable summer’s night.
Image: Epitaph Records