Live Review: Jamie Lenman at Sound Control in Manchester 01 May 2017

Review from Ben Forrester

It’s been quite the journey for Jamie Lenman these past few years. His band Reuben were the unsung heroes of British post-hardcore throughout the naughties and they worked ridiculously hard through the 10 years they were active. After their split in 2008, Lenman took some well needed time off, eventually emerging from the shadows in 2013 with his debut solo album ‘Muscle Memory‘. The release of the record managed to spawn a whole new wave of fans for him, with many going back and discovering the genius of his previous project. This new lease of life has lead to Jamie becoming one of UK rock’s most treasured voices.

Tonight, I am sweating my face off in Sound Control, ready to catch him and his band as part of a full UK tour in support of his new double A single. Having just signed to supreme indie label Big Scary Monsters with talks of a second solo album on route, there is a lot of hype and excitement in camp Lenman right now and this is very much transferred to the crowd this evening.

I noticed that all the supports for this tour are two-pieces and it isn’t until Jamie walks on stage backed by just drummer (Dan) that I realise that this was deliberate. That’s something I love about Jamie, his attention to detail. I am instantly intrigued as to how this is going to sound, particularly with some of the tracks on Muscle Memory being so fucking crushing. From the minute him and Dan rip into the sprightly rock rush of new single ‘Waterloo Teeth‘, you know that this is going to be a savage set as they sound monstrous!

Having played in  a noisy two-piece myself, I am astounded at how chunky the guitar sounds, the low end is properly booming out of the PA and it sounds fucking huge! Without little break, we get the ferocious thrash punk of ‘Fizzy Blood‘, followed by the bounced up rock of Reuben track ‘Parties Break Hearts‘ – they’re only three songs in and already the crowd are pure putty.

The set tonight is a celebration of Jamie’s past, present and future. We hear a nice chunk of Reuben songs with no skimping out. We get album tracks like ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave’ Em‘ and ‘Cities On Fire‘ and even rarity ‘Blitzkrieg‘ thrown in for the OG’s. By playing these particular tracks, it shows that Jamie respects the fact that Reuben fans go in deep and caters to our nerdy needs and doesn’t just bring out ‘crowd friendly hits’! I am totally delighted to hear his cover of Kerbdog’sMexican Wave‘ too as I remember hearing a recorded version of the cover years ago and it blew me away! It still blows me away tonight, especially its brief brutal breakdown at the end!

But of course, a lot of tonight’s set is dominated with Lenman’s solo material and rightly so! Muscle Memory is an incredible piece of work, consisting of a heavy side and softer side and it’s a testament to his songwriting talents that he can go from the acoustically driven ho-down of ‘If You Ask Then You’ll Never Know‘ to the utter, riffed up filth of ‘Six Fingered Hand‘. It’s also super cool to hear the new stuff he’s been working on and previous single ‘Mississippi‘ sounds properly massive with a strong confident groove, while brand new tune ‘All Of England Is A City‘ is a proper chest out rock hit in the making, with a QOTSA style swag.

As you might have guessed, Jamie and Dan absolutely smash it tonight. The set is full of twists and turns, the in-between patter is interactive and charismatic as always cementing Jamie Lenman as an utterly brilliant and unstoppable performer. I urge you to get to a show on this run and prepare for a seriously fun filled evening of hits, laughter and RIFFS!

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