"I said 'shut that door'," Jamie T sang/exclaimed Larry Grayson-style during his bawdy opener, "Brand New Bass Guitar". It's followed up by the lyric "spewing all up over the floor". This 21-year-old from Wimbledon is a deliciously subversive and perverse contender for Mike Skinner and Lily's Allen's jocular rapper crown. This pasty, wiry youth is a heady mix of Billy Bragg, Mike Skinner, Johnny Rotten, Paul Weller and Elvis Costello, and his album Panic Prevention is a strong contender for the best debut of the Noughties.
Tonight's gig was a scrappy, unruly, fragmented, occasionally nonsensical, and positively giddy affair. How many brand new acts could get away with a wholly appreciated four-song encore? It was a very young crowd, some of them looked like they were attending their first gig and were accompanied by their cool mums - who were clearly not bothered by Jamie's foul language, of which there's quite a lot.
His vignettes on urban life are not subtle and often not particularly politically correct, but they are riddled with gallows humour and energy. On the stark single, "So Lonely is the Ballad", the MC-troubadour warns us about "Average Joes" because "they'll steal your girlfriend/ Take her round the back and she'll come back limping."
Previous Jamie T gigs have been stripped-down affairs, with the lanky rapper belting out his "street" music alone, with his acoustic bass guitar. Here, he has a four-piece band, which were never less than frenetic. Together they created a chaotic dub-punk sound, and the words - and there's an awful lot of words - were drowned out among all the mayhem.
However, everything made sense once he started his sublimely catchy hit, "Calm Down Dearest", which is Jamie T's equivalent of "I Bet that You Look Good on the Dancefloor". The second half scooted by, with a stripped down "Back in the Game" and "Sheila" both inducing raucous appreciation.
Near the close, Jamie T broke into "I was 21 years when I wrote this song/ I'm 22 years now, but I won't be for long". It's a lovely version of Billy Bragg's "New England" and the upstart is celebrating his youth. Jamie's a show-off. Thank heavens.
Touring to end 8 February ( www.jamie-t.com)Reuse content