Them NudesEdit this event
- Bush Hall, Hammersmith »
It’s during ‘Ike & Tina’ that it really hits home. Just 9 months ago, at the tail end of last Autumn, I was up too late listening to shabbily recorded demo versions of this and two other tunes that'd go on to make the Bush Hall setlist, (‘Calm Down Dearest’ and ‘Sheila’), in my bedroom. You’re gona have to forgive the wet nostalgia of this statement – because tonight is one of those nights that encourages sepia stained glances in both directions – but it seems like so much has changed so quickly. A gone midnight decision to get tickets for a gig a few weeks later at the 100 club in Oxford Street and before I know it 4 shows across the capital – including a timeless one the night before the whale at Brentford F.C. – have been racked up and rolled out; attendance rising every stop along the way in sync with public attention. The boy’s burning up. This is my fifth, though, and it brings with it a new novelty – it’s the first time I or London will size up this new gang; Jamie T and The Selfish Sons.
I’m one of a small, ragged, drunken army that meets at the pink Shepherd’s Bush station and marches up the high street to Bush Hall. I know its chandeliers and cosy decadence well after seeing Jens Lekman smoulder and steam himself to mob victory here on a cold night in February; if you’ve got personality, you can take this place. Different by planets to Jens, but a scallywag star quality nonetheless – the stage is taken by the force of stories which provoke parties which force new stories, and on and on, in turn.
Before, The Nudes combine to make a decent, blokey noise – like early Jam, dancing the chuggah-chuggah shuffle with Gang of Four. They sound like London was this morning – grey, raining and somehow fresh despite the humidity. And it was humid: beer was sweat. Underage louts hung under condensing chandeliers. Talk floated in bubbles across the room. It was somewhere around this time I sunk back into myself – with the clatter of ‘Something To Say’ coming on ironic - a conversation killer. It came regular as clockwork through the night, a habit of drawing up and taking stock… trapped in the contradiction of the busy murmur of conversation and the solitude of the times when it gets too loud for idle chit chat and you can retreat slightly into your own world. And your mind, it flits, from stupid nostalgia to the future - like rifling through old photo albums with a new girlfriend.
Bush Hall always feels like a celebration, and tonight's bobs into action with the cuttingly sullen bass skip of ‘Livin’ With Betty’, a track, like many tonight, that earns itself a rewind after the very first paragraph. But there are no rewinds or replays tonight, and even through the soupy haze of Benson smoke and flashbacks, the celebratory mood and an earnest run through ‘Calm Down Dearest’, there is urgency and adventure and dare. After this two song scene-setter, Jamie pulls anchor on his London nights to date and introduces the four blokes who make up his band; turning on a pin and refusing to let hype fester. And he don't go round dragging his heels - every chat swells with personality, reaping benefits from the space and distance that come with the schooling of a rebel-sound dilettante. Dark attics plundered for old 7" and 12" 45s, dusted off and given fresh verve with up-to-the-minute soundbites, beats and swagger.
‘NWA (Not Without Apology)’ is the first ‘Sons’ track, and it’s born for being the first track to bloody virgin ground. Perhaps the most channelled of tonight’s songs, it starts out on the stride before breaking into a single-lane, high-freq sprint towards answers that only serve to pose more questions. With bowlish basslines and a predatory Londinium slink proudly possessed by everyone from Roman foot soldier to 'Woody' Mellor, it sounds like it’s probably gona solve those posers in the end. Tracks like ‘Sheila’ and ‘If You’ve Got The Money’ sound even better for the band, while the early shots of ‘Down To The Subway’ and ‘Alicia Keys’ get the airings they've long deserved. All this and I won't hear 'Sheila' b-side 'Northern Line' 'till tonight tonight (6th July). It is - of course - perilously, ridiculously brilliant; shy like 'Ike & Tina's distant, kohl-eyed twin sister.
Like every night, this night has it’s restrictions. It’s annoying that all you can do throughout is shout the words back at him, ‘cos they articulate enough in a single song to spark hours worth of conversation. We catch him afterwards, but he seems either just plain drained or slightly reticent; which seems out of character. We ask him the same thing we ask everyone in our alcoholic stupor; “What you up to now mate?” He doesn’t know, but unlike a few others he ain’t up for coming along to a party. No matter. It’s a proper mission across the city and you can always rely on under-the-counter offys to keep the conversation flowing. After two hours we make it home, where tunes are turned up and talk turns inevitably backwards, to earlier on in the night.
The newest of my sepia photographs; where every song is a reason for Jamie to be confident, so he is - he’s learnt how to control a stage armed only with four strings and a bit of wood up ‘till now, so flanked with backup he revels. He hasn’t played ‘Back In The Game’ yet either, so it’s pretty much set that there’s gona be an encore. Horrible American things, think the Arctic Monkeys. Maybe that goes some way to explaining why they still go more respected than liked. Busting the battered old bass for an acoustic version of perhaps his most anthemic effort to date, it absorbs enough applause to earn itself a serenade for seeing him through ‘till now. ‘Bass Guitar’ goes down a storm and rampages where before it charmingly ambled. Yeah, I know. Story of the night really, ennit?
Image courtesy: Mr Max Tollworthy
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