There are two types of people in this world: Those that have heard Jamie Lenman and those that haven’t. And either way you’re a winner. For those of you that know Jamie’s catalogue, you can sit contently in the bliss that you’ve been privileged enough to hear his songs, and on the other side, you’re able to hear his music for the first time and experience a musician that is inspiring, original and most importantly sincere. If you sit in that latter camp, you should take to YouTube or his website website to hear his sweet, sweet music.
Earlier this year, Jamie returned with double album Muscle Memory, his first record since Reuben’s post-breakup compilation We Should Have Gone to University and in celebration of this momentous occasion, decided to embark upon a week-long tour. In those seven days Jamie hit up six locations, including London twice on the last two nights. If this were to be considered Jamie dipping his toes in the water, he pretty much threw himself in full force, with the heart of a lion and the energy of a gorilla. Waves were made.
Jamie was joined on tour by Nottingham’s Kill Chaos, a brutal hit of alternative rock, and although the crowd didn’t pile in as much as the band deserved, they still rocked their slot and left an impressive mark. Notable mention goes to the powerhouse drummer with a slender frame, who holds some ridiculously tight skill. The second support act was Leeds based Castrovalva. This was a tangle of bass and drums with lead singer Leemun Smith having fun with voice loops and ‘autobot’ accents. Although their first song seemed disjointed, they soon snapped into place and bassist Anthony Wright’s heavy grooves were a considerable highlight.
A short while after the support acts, the sweet sound of someone strumming a ukulele was heard from off the stage. The Crowd waited in anticipation as the shadows began to move and someone separated from the darkness. It is our man, our saviour, and our reason for being at The Garage on a cold Tuesday eve. As he broke into his singing stride, the crowd grabbed hold and sang along, something that happened during the majority of the songs. Both new and old Lenman songs were met with the crowd joining him in a melting pot of lyrics and soul, and for an hour or so, everyone in sync.
After the ukulele fuelled ‘Shotgun House’, the band tore into some of their heavier songs from the first CD. ‘The Six Fingered Hand’ and ‘Fizzy Blood’ had the crowd breaking their necks to head bang at high velocity speeds. Little did everyone know, Jamie had a surprise in store; a Reuben song. For those of you not in the know, Reuben is Jamies’s old band: awesome, humble, fun and loud. The opening track ‘No-one Wins the War’ from their debut Racecar is Racecar Backwards lurches into gear with Jamie’s distinct guitar screech weaving between the drums. In only 15 minutes, it is serenely clear that this gig will be filled with heavy moments, tender songs, interlude laughs and the occasional throwback to the Reuben years.
Next up was one of those tender songs, ‘I Ain’t Your Boy’, a charming and nostalgic acoustic track about Jamie’s progression through the last 10 years. This song is one of the prime examples of Jamie’s writing talent, with an ability to capture a basic human experience, strip it bare and build it up again. If you know Jamie’s life, even just a little, it’ll hit you hard. Jamie went back to the acoustic guitar for another Reuben oldie, ‘Good Luck’, followed by a few more songs from the second CD of Muscle Memory.
The set was finished with a mix of Jamie’s heavier stuff from the first CD and some more Reuben classics. Final song ‘Shambles (Long Version)’ effectively brought the house down, and it was clear from the noise that Jamie and co. had done a memorable job of finishing the tour in style.
Unfortunately it is hard to mention Jamie Lenman without thinking of Reuben. However, what has become clear from this performance is that he doesn’t shy away from his past; he embraces it when necessary and shows us that with time comes positive progression. Jamie, along with his support acts, is an incredibly humble guy just happy to be playing again and if you’re open minded about heavy rock, acoustic guitar, banjos and jazz then Jamie’s the guy for you.