Jamie T - Cambridge ARU
It's always struck me that the Cambridge ARU Student Bar is an odd venue - brand new and purpose built, when it's quiet in there it reminds me of an, admittedly small, aircraft hanger. Whether gigs will continue to be put on her is up for debate, but it would be a shame to deprive Cambridge of a medium sized venue, especially if it continues to host such great acts as it does this evening.
Having come across both these acts as support for the Mystery Jets before Christmas and was suitably impressed, Jamie T has certainly had a bit of press since. Being championed in the Guardian's acts to look out for this year and has the personal backing of Tom Vek, this year could be his. However, before he takes to the stage we have the excellent Six Toes.
They play a slightly different set this evening, their drummer has been unable to make it as he's working extra shifts in Tesco this evening, so they can only play songs that work without that accompaniment. Their sound would be routine folk, with acoustic guitars and a cello as backing, but it's the duelling between the two lead guitarists David Greenep and Ben Rogers’s contrasting vocals and Rogers' fantastic guitar playing that sets them apart. Reminding me of M. Ward's picking, it's crystal clear and holds me in kind of reverential awe - he makes it look so effortless. It's also his voice which is like nothing I've heard on this earth - a ghostly wail which rises and falls but fits seamlessly around Greenep's more traditional delivery. The crowd seem to be won over as their set develops, the lack of drumming maybe counting against them in terms of a sense of urgency, but their songs don't need to be rushed, you should absorb them, immerse yourself in them. With the resurgence of Folk music at the moment, it would be a shame if these guys weren't picked up and allow their drummer sometime off from the day job.
The scene is set then. Minimal setup for Jamie as a stool is arranged centre stage and he comes on holding his acoustic bass guitar. The crowd quiet in anticipation - there's certainly a buzz about this guy at the moment and you sense that people have come here to see something special. He doesn't disappoint. With nothing other than his acoustic bass for accompaniment, you might think the songs would be one paced, but it's his lyrics and delivery which are the hooks. You can do nothing but tap your foot and listen as he spits out the words, lyrics that Mike Skinner or Billy Bragg would give their right testicle for.
Drinking cans and fighting for Tony
The crowd are in a kind of reverential silence, smiles washing over thier faces as the witticisms stream from this kid on stage. He tackles everything from girl troubles to political strife, spinning yarns and great tales in the process. He's got a couple of groupies this evening, right at the front of the stage, miming every word and providing backing vocals when needed. As the set finishes, he mentions he has compilation tapes to hand out to anyone who's interested. The track listing hints at his influences; Costello, Drury, Clash, Specials. If he continues to make music as interesting and as vivid as he currently is, expect what is currently a buzz to rise to an deafening noise.
Six Toes Myspace / Jamie T Myspace