A few weeks back, word got out that Jamie Lenman, ex-Reuben frontman, had re-emerged from the ether, and had actually been working on a solo project for the past four years… and managed to keep it a secret! Last Wednesday, our Lottie went to his new album showcase and she drank wine.
6 things we learnt watching Jamie Lenman at The Islington
1) Tonight’s support, Great Cynics are lovely and their occasionally slighly-too-twee indie punk provides some nice moments but there’s only one real reason why everyone is crammed into a tiny back room of a London pub for this very understated ‘big’ return. After the Reuben split, many young, overcharged hearts were broken, and some (mine included) have never quite been the same since. The yearning to hear his soaring chorus had never gone away, and he does not let us down tonight.
2) This is not a Reuben gig. As much as 100 per cent of this audience would have been equally/more than happy with that, Jamie comes on stage to a tidal wave of rapturous applause and genuine warmth and excitement from the audience. With a short, humble introduction, dressed in cravates, white shirts and adorned in moustaches, the band and Jamie bulldoze into their first song which, eyes closed, could have been mistaken for Meshuggah. Heavy as hell, they ravage through the first few songs from the first disc of new album, Muscle Memory, entitled… ‘Muscle’ – (CD2 being ‘Memory’, if you haven’t worked that out). The songs are bursting with riffs and so pissed off. I seriously want to read the lyrics to those tracks.
3) Any nerves there may be for Lenman himself aren’t apparent in the slightest. His trademark wit is ever present as he gets plenty of laughs out of the crowd, but also opens up with the serious stories that are behind some of his new songs. He has the audience captivated throughout – nobody’s having a conversation at the back or checking their phone for Facebook notifications. Instead, every set of eyes are firmly transfixed on Jamie Lenman.
4) The unexpected delight – some Reuben tracks. “We all know why you’re here, and what you want to really hear,” says Jamie, smirking and somewhat unexpectedly. Many here obviously wanted it to happen, but many were also doubtful whether it actually would so when the third song he plays is Racecar Is Racecar Backwards opener, ‘No One Wins The War’, Lenman really doesn’t need to sing a single word as the reaction is probably the loudest any band has ever had in this little pub. The electricity in the audience is incredible, arms are round friends, hands are being held and it is totally awesome. An unforgettable moment right there.
5) If further proof was ever needed at how great a song-writer Lenman is, the songs from ‘Memory’ provide more than enough evidence. It’s a much softer album, allowing Lenman to really showcase his parallel set of talents of incredible vocals and beautiful songwriting skills. The folksy-Americana vibes make it feel like he’s telling you stories; stories that have hurt him. The crowd even sings along to debut single ‘Fizzy Blood’ which Lenman grinned at profusely, having only been out for a couple of weeks.
I mean, I did a cry part of the way through first track, ‘Shotgun House’, performed acoustically by just Jamie. It was silent and overwhelming. Just listen to it when it comes out. It was an emotional event! Stop judging me…
6) If you don’t go and see Jamie at his shows in December, with his amazing band, you are an idiot. If you don’t buy his album, you are also an idiot. Mr Lenman, has an extremely recognisable voice, so yeah, of course its similar to Reuben but the void has been filled with a matured, more sensitive and more powerful (in both volume or emotion) version of what we all love Jamie for and it’s an absolute treat. Christmas really Is Awesome this year!
NB: The Islington’s wine glasses are obviously some sort of voodoo/witchcraft job, deceptively refilling huge amounts of wine without my knowledge… which obviously brought on the result of the end of 5). You’ve been warned.