Georgie O'Toole 18/06/2006
It's 9:45 pm and everyone is sweating. In fact 'sweating' is quite an understatement. 'Losing 95% of bodily fluids through every pore on your whole body' would be more accurate. The ceiling is sweating. The floor is sweating. The bloody walls are sweating. And yet despite the moisture in the air in this squat, windowless sauna of a venue (welcome to the Birmingham Bar Academy) nobody's spirits seem to be dampened. There's people squashed into every crevice, girls stood on benches peeling themselves off walls, barflies fighting to access the one and only fan in place behind the counter (whilst not leaving their coveted crowd position) and nobody gives a damn. The general feeling seems to be 'this better be worth it' - and thankfully
After two rather underwhelming performances from the Scarlet Harlots and the Nudes, the crowd doesn't have to wait long before the man himself takes the stage (doubtless he correctly deduced that people might actually be cooked alive if he took too long). Polite and with just enough witty banter to placate the crowd, Jamie T starts his set with two acoustic numbers that echo the format of his early touring days and bring a touch of nostalgia to the show. For Jamie T's live show has changed completely since his last visit to Birmingham supporting the kooks earlier this year, mainly due to the presence of a band. Weep with delight as you hear this; whereas Jamie T's songs have been criticised in their demo and acoustic forms for all sounding too similar for distinction, the live band adds a whole new dimension to his music and from this moment onwards he's quite simply unstoppable. Songs heavily peppered with reggae and considerable dollops of hip hop are seasoned with indie and ska. Old favourites such as 'NWA (not without apology)' and 'Ike and Tina' are served up and gobbled away. The crowd is ravenous and Jamie T is only too happy to provide the main course, in a fast paced bonanza where current single 'Sheila' (currently doing the round on MTV2 and Radio 1) is particularly well received, with mass singing, foot stamping and general euphoria. If 'Sheila' was the main course then 'Salvador' is the desert - the final song which is every bit as sweet as it should be. Easily the crowd favourite mosh pits are reserved for the front rows only and everywhere else people are cramming in as many dance moves as time will allow - and so are particularly happy when their musical messiah for the evening repeats the final verse of 'Salvador'.
With that, Jamie T leaves the stage. He's given the crowd just enough to make them want more, and the masses are screaming for an encore. They don't get one. Instead, they are treated to Panic Prevention Disco V.3 mix tapes (if they have the moxy to fight their way through the baying crowd, that is). A DIY attitude and the tunes to show for it, Jamie T has arrived ladies and gentlemen. And he's not going anywhere anytime soon.