Date: July 7th, 2019
Venue: O2 Academy Islington, London
Support: Orchards / Frauds / False Advertising
Once again, it’s time to bear witness to one of the most consistently brilliant yet underrated songwriters to grace this earth, Jamie Lenman.
Tonight serves as a warm-up show for his appearance (and personally curated stage for one day) at 2000 Trees Festival, and another opportunity for Lenman‘s die-hard fanbase to witness their favourite performer in concert. He’s also hot off the heels of his new experimental covers album, ‘Shuffle’, which was only released a few days prior.
Billed simply as Jamie Lenman Again , he opens his own headline show by performing a short but sweet acoustic set, as usual filled with jokes and classics from both his solo career and from his Reuben days. ‘Song For Saturday’ opens up the evening, serving as reminder of the range and quality of his archives. The infectious ‘Shotgun House’ provides a moment of joy, and the ever-powerful ‘Nobody Loves You’ along with a rendition of fan favourite ‘Good Luck’, which sees False Advertising‘s own Jen Hingley perform guest vocals.
In a little under half an hour, there’s still a number of highlights, including the normally thrash dense ‘Fizzy Blood’, re-worked from the wall of fury it is on ‘Muscle Memory’ into an acoustic-swing number, proving that Lenman is effortlessly adept at switching things up, even when it comes to his own songs.
We then move onto the first support act proper of the night, False Advertising . In spite of running into some sound issues at the start, with vocalist Jen Hingley‘s guitar being way too quiet in the mix, it’s thankfully turned up louder pretty promptly. If you’re big on melodic grunge and punk, this lot are definitely ones to keep your eyes on.
The band trade on grunge and punk that challenges you not to pogo, and go between more faster, aggressive styles, and the more power-pop ‘Hey You’ is another showcase of their talents. Some heavier numbers recall the likes of Soundgarden, and Hingley‘s vocal delivery sits nicely alongside more current bands like Marmozets and Milk Teeth.
Following up are Frauds , who certainly defy normal conventions. You could say that it’s hard to find a more out-there stage patter than theirs, with a random poem thrown in by frontman Mike Alvarez, and, whilst they can throw in unexpected, things like the teasing of the riffs of a song followed by clearly-staged ‘awkward’ pauses feel a little contrived. But, overall, Frauds‘ greatest strength is that they leave you with something to talk about.
Some of their songs, such as recently released single ‘Putin’s Day Off’, have enough catchy riffs and strange lyrics, and a handful of post-punk numbers manage to peak interest too. Still, while Frauds deserve some credit for thinking outside the box, their somewhat rudimentary two-piece rock has little of a lasting effect, even with some ‘quirky’ stage banter thrown in. This is a songs game, after all.
The final support act of the night is Orchards , whose brand of sun-kissed indie pop is certainly immediate. The stage presence of vocalist Lucy Evers is very strong, and guitarist Sam Rushton‘s angular guitar work puts a large stamp on things.
There’s an awful lot of bounce here, and plenty of optimism for sure. The only real drawback is that some of their songs tend to blend into one another a little bit too much, with many of them relying on the same drum grooves and song structures. There could certainly be a little more variety, but Orchards prove to be a solid final-warm up.
And now for the moment everyone arrived for. Every time Jamie Lenman  plays, it feels like a significant event, at least among his fanbase, but with his ex-Reuben bandmate Guy Davis joining him on drums for his two-piece set-up, there’s an extra sense of occasion, and with a smattering of red lights behind him, the atmosphere is certainly getting us prepared.
With a longed-out synth intro, we’re eventually greeted with his cover of Adamski & Seal‘s hit ‘Killer’, which sets us into first gear, and we only continue to climb from there. ‘Hell In A Fast Car’ follows soon after, which now a regular staple with good reason, and though Lenman has always been one to have plenty of wildcards in his deck, he plays one of his latest when his aggro cover of the ‘Popeye’ theme gets an airing, and also gets the biggest mosh of the night.
The energy seems to keep going up and up, peaking with last year’s ferocious stand-alone single, ‘Long Gone’. After another Reuben oldie ‘Eating Only Apples’ is played, the rocked-up cover of Cyndi Lauper‘s single ‘She Bop’ makes an appearance, which is very much… a bop, to say the obvious.
‘I Ain’t Your Boy’ helps to offer some respite, before the Reuben classic ‘No One Wins The War’ charges up the energy levels yet again, which is always guaranteed a riotous reaction from his fanbase.
Not wanting to do a self-indulgent encore, the final two tracks reach for the heartstrings a little more than prior. The penultimate track is a Reuben deep cut ‘Dusk’, which is belted back by the crowd; as tonight’s set list is fan-voted, you’d be forgiven for wanting a more democratised approach to be more common.
The title track from 2017’s ‘Devolver’ closes things off, and with it a massive sing-along occurs yet again, with tonight’s crowd no doubt believing the exact opposite of the chorus, “I am irrelevant”. With two thirds of Reuben providing a fantastic demonstration of theirs and Jamie Lenman‘s solo back catalogue respectively, those heading to 2000 Trees will no doubt be even more excited.