Back from what many thought was musical career death with his band Reuben in 2008, Jamie Lenman is back on the road touring his recently release double-album with his backing band; the Heavy Mellow Band. Now at the Manchester date of his debut solo tour run, the first date when the tour was announced to sell out, it’s very much expected to be one of, if not the most, explosive dates of the tour.
Setting the tone with local openers Stilts (***), the Leeds based trio are still within their early stages of infancy, but from shows like this it’s a wonder they’ve not got a bigger following behind them. Sounding like a cocktail of UK superstars Muse with a punk/grunge-y edge akin to Nine Black Alps and The Vines, they pack a reasonable punch and without doubt pull in some new fans from this sold out show.
Touring support outfit Kill Chaos (***) keep the punk rock ethic going and, depsite vocalist Darren Clewes confessing pretty early on that he’s suffering from a bit of a sore throat, the band still manage to sound rather weighty with chunk chords throughout for just a three-piece. Their debut album may only be a few weeks old, but they’ve got their live set down tight. With a few more tours like this, they could be a new British hope.
Coming from behind a black curtain, walking to the front of the stage with a banjolele in hand and the members of his band joining him one-by-one through set opener ‘Shotgun House’, Jamie Lenman (*****) is back in Manchester once again after a five year absence. Moving so swiftly into the almost complete opposite of the musical spectrum, the trashing terror of ‘The Six Fingered Hand’, and these two tracks are very much a tiny snapshot of what is to continue for the remaining hour: variation.
Indeed, what we have here is Lenman delivering material from all corners of his musical talents. He gathers the band, his roadies and even most of the Night & Day Café crowd for the chant-filled ‘A Day In The Life Of The Modern Man’, he rips the faces off many with ‘One Of My Eyes Is A Clock’, gets the room singing along to ‘I Ain’t Your Boy’, and even bangs in a few Reuben fan favourites like ‘No One Wins The War’ and ‘Keep It To Yourself’.
There’s far too much to mention all in one review, but the true highlights are the homour throughout heart-tugger ‘Good Luck’, the partnership with his wife Katie during ‘It’s Hard To Be A Gentleman’, and closing on Reuben epic ‘Shambles’, it’s clear that his hiatus from the music world has honed his skills no end. Maybe the magic is all in the moustache, maybe it’s still in his battered Yamaha guitar or maybe it’s in his formal attire. Wherever it is, it packs more than just muscle to forever stay in memory.
Written by Zach Redrup