Posted by: martinworster | June 2, 2008

118. JAMIE LIDELL AT THE EL REY

Jamie and his band jumped on stage looking like a white version of George Clinton’s Parliament, all shiny suits and zany shades. The El Rey is on Wiltshire Boulevard near Beverley Hills and it was suitably plush with red velour walls, squeaky clean floors and extravagant chandeliers.

I have a – admittedly very tenuous – connection with Jamie. Ten years ago he used to be the flatmate of my good friend Lynton down in Brighton. One weekend I went to stay with Lynton and met Jamie, who was then banging out squelchy techo from behind racks of synths in his bedroom. I hasten to say struggling artist as that’s a cliche – but it’s amazing what can happen in ten years. Now Jamie’s one of the hippest artists out there, packing concert halls, supporting Elton John on his upcoming UK tour and generally being a fave with the critics. Lynton said I should go and say hi at the concert but I thought it would be a bit flaky; ‘hi, remember me from ten years ago?’. I’m sure he’d be more interested in blond groupies not pre-middle aged friends of friends.

I had Jamie’s album Multiply. I’d also heard some of his material as Super Collider, a collaboration with Christian Vogel who I was at University with in Brighton and DJ’d alongside at a gig in the students union.

Jamie jumped on stage looking much thinner than I remembered. I imagine that’s what excessive touring and shagging does for you. Where do I sign up? His voice is exceptional – note perfect. I’m not exaggerating by saying he reminds me of Al Green (mixed up with Prince and Curtis Mayfield). No lie. There’d been some comments in the press about his casually hopping from one genre (techno) to the next (soul / retro R&B) as is if this was not allowed and was also a sign of sell out. The critics can stick it up their jacksys.

Jamie is superbly talented in both genres. I don’t think it’s a sell out. He clearly has a genuine love for soul and his voice is phenomenal. He probably understandably wants to reach a wider audience. He was also a great performer, energetic, keeping the audience involved and throwing the mic around. Older fans were also treated to his beatbox routine – where he beatboxes into a machine and loops the beats and noises to create mouthmade techno. He then segued this back into the live three piece band. He also did some Cameo-esque vocoder call and responses between him and his saxophonist, a cool 80s reference. Jamies on the verge of something massive, I’m pleased I saw him before it happens and I wish I’d said hello.

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