Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Tuesday, May 15, 2007 
Ding Dong Lounge

When the queue of ticketless exceeds those with tickets, the gig is at Ding Dong, the performer is a British artist with little airplay, no hits and only an acoustic bass guitar for company, something is on the rise.

To the opening chimes of The Holidays' set, the very sold out Ding Dong is already a cesspit of cool. It's a 10-minute wait for a drink, teenagers rush from group to group in neatly tucked-out shirts and easily-excitable girls in skirts hold bottles and jump up and down laughing. On stage the bottleneck jeans and messy hair complement the British indie-rock perfectly. Clearly a band who've not been around for long, they do have the moves, the great drummer, the looks and the pop hooks to get a much bigger following, they also seem like friendly folk, comfortable with the show and genuinely humbled to be playing with Mr T. Ice Cream Cone, Plains and the closing song Nothing were all good examples of their chugging tunes with simple lead-lines and catchy choruses. Expect an album, a signing and a promoter to leap on board before 2008.

A surge later and Jamie T is up there with the (mainly female) crowd all cheering mouths and clapping hands. Jamie, sickly pale, with dental problems as marked any other Londoner and a McGowen-esque charm to boot, suddenly seems like he's playing one of his first ever gigs, before a demo tape, before the band, before the hype, and it's a privilege. Fittingly his first Australian tour is as a solo performer, as apparently he's due back with band before the end of the year, and you can safely bet that tonight's crowd will have multiplied by then and those here will be glad for this warm up.

Opening with Calm Down Dearest, a fantastic version of Billy Bragg's A New England, and amid confessions of jet lag, a request for sambuca, and several swigs of Stella, Jamie is clearly on form. Often consulting his setlist (taped upside-down to the front of his shirt pocket), Jamie walks in circles on the stage before spilling his raps; perhaps missing the interaction of a band. Livin' With Betty, Back in The Game and Ike & Tina all survive transition back to being acutely observed and often funny spoken word pieces with a suggestion of acoustic bass incredibly well - helped along by an well-up-for-it and knowledgeable crowd. Given the boisterous pom contingent (and no doubt Australians who discovered him while in the UK) there is a big response to the song Northern Line ("Norr-ven line"), which is a step outside his lauded Panic Prevention album almost all of which gets an airing tonight. Though the gig falls under an hour in length, no one seems the slightest bit disappointed, and it's no surprise that by the second last song there is a row of sambuca shot-glasses to Jamie's left, bought and carefully brought by various fans. Closing song and current single Sheila gets a huge reception, as it should because it's killer. His appearance, genuine humbleness, quick wit (working lyrics about his jet lag into Livin' With Betty) and the Bragg cover betray his roots as being very different to those of Mikey Skinner and Lily Allen - you can't see him leaving SW14 (AKA Wimbledon, AKA his home turf) and slagging off celebs. These slices of London life aren't trying to prove anything beyond telling their story, and they have a masterful teller. Wicked.

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