JAMIE T: Live @ Finsbury Park 30/06/23
Following a huge 2022 for Jamie T which saw him earn his first number 1 album as well as gaining platinum certification for his 2007 debut album ‘Panic Prevention’, the 00s indie hero took to Finsbury Park on June 30th for his biggest ever headline show. Backed by a full day line up of eclectic, high-calibre artists which consisted of Willie J Healey, Hak Baker, Biig Piig, Kojy Radical and IDLES, Jamie arrived in front of 40,000 people for the first of three huge Finsbury Park shows across the weekend (other shows featured headliners PULP and The 1975). It first has to be noted how perfectly fitting the hand-picked line up of support acts was for the show, with each act capturing one of the many elements of Jamie’s widespread genre exploration over the last 15 years.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Louise Bennett
Willie J Healey’s music pays homage to the songwriting greats of old while tapping into a similarly poignant songwriting style that Jamie has really ramped up on his latest album with tracks like ‘Thank You’ and ‘50,000 unmarked bullets’ as well as early album classics such as ‘Emily’s Heart’. Hak Baker expressed the no-nonsense London swagger and scrappy, punk attitude of Jamie’s first record while radiating an infectiously positive energy that got the crowd well and truly in the mood early in the afternoon. Biig Piig really ramped up the energy of the evening as she sprinted across the stage half out of breath while tapping into Jamie’s love for electronic production featured heavily on the albums ‘Kings and Queens’ and ‘Trick’. Kojy Radical delivered a powerful and punchy flurry of lyrical attacks and dense beats which was a fantastic connection to Jamie’s slack-jawed rapping that weaves its way into every record. Then last but not least, the full-throttle punk onslaught of IDLES was the perfect final tone-setter to get 40,000 fans dancing in the rain and their set played up to those Jamie T fans who love his deeper, punkier cuts such as ‘Fire Fire’ and ‘40/40 ICU’ which appear on his ‘B-Sides’ album.
With the atmosphere fully super-charged and each and every kind of Jamie T fan satisfied by the wide range of musical offerings throughout the day, Jamie finally took to the stage to a rapturous applause. It was an interesting choice to begin his set with his latest single ‘Hippodrome’ which was released just a few days before his performance, yet it turned out to be a great marker for where he is, both musically and personally, right now. His classic, fast-paced lyrical flows combined with a poignant sentiment and a vastly improved singing style that he has developed over his career perfectly set the tone for the evening while the track’s cinematic and emotive quality felt apt for an occasion that clearly meant a great deal for him.
‘The Old Style Raiders’ and ‘90s Cars’, two of the stand out tracks from his latest record ‘The Theory of Whatever’, came early in the set and it was immediately apparent that these songs stood right up there with the very best of the Jamie T discography. The former, in particular, had the entire crowd flinging their arms in their and straining to hit the persistent high notes of the chorus, often with little success it has to be said, but the passion from the crowd could be felt nonetheless. These two songs, together with ‘St. George Wharf Tower’ and ‘Between The Rocks’, which arrived later in the evening, were evidence that after over 15 years in the game Jamie T’s songwriting is as strong as ever, being able to deliver his trademark scrappy indie style and a more refined, heartfelt tone in equal measure.
Having said this, the nostalgia of his debut album tracks still created some of the night’s most memorable moments. ‘If You Got The Money’ and ‘Salvador’ of course garnered the biggest crowd reactions with their sing-along, danceable qualities.
However, the most impressive of the ‘Panic Prevention’ performances was ‘Operation’, the 6 minute flourish that dips in and out of a string of different flows as well as featuring one of the best Jamie T lyrics of all time “I ain’t no abacus, but you can count on me”. It was on this track where Jamie and his band fully came together to use all the original distinctive elements that gained him a cult following back in 2007 while using his more refined, developed, modern style to enhance the biggest moments of the song. On record, it is an appealingly scrappy performance, yet in front of 40,000 people it was punchy, brash and anthemic.
The encore came around at rapid speed and was filled with four back-to-back hits that reminded everyone present why Jamie T is such an indie hero who’s tracks still get blasted around the clubs night after night. ‘Back In The Game’, ‘Sheila’, ‘Sticks and Stones’ and ‘Zombie’ closed the night with a triumphant flourish that had the entire park bouncing. This finale felt especially poignant as he took time to bring out two of his closest friends including Hugo White of The Maccabees to perform. By the end, the stage was packed with those who’ve been by Jamie T’s side since the start and there was a real sense of camaraderie on stage as they often went up to hug each other mid-song and were constantly beaming at one another until the final note.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Louise Bennett
On what was the self-proclaimed biggest night of Jamie T’s night, the indie legend pulled out all the stops, still radiating all the punk attitude, lyrical ferocity and playful scrappy energy that he had back in the 00s, yet with a newfound finesse in the arrangement and performance of his band. For many, who had grown up using the introspective bars of ‘Panic Prevention’ as a crutch in their teenage years (Kojy Radical being one of these), the night was just as sentimental as it was for Jamie himself. After a full-day of the UK’s most talented new artists paying homage to the man himself, Jamie T delivered a performance well worthy of the biggest headline show of his career and he proved that he has got plenty more fire in the engine for years to come!