Looking around the packed-out crowd at Finsbury Park, filled with beard clad burly men, cool dads in aviators and band tee donned millennials, it was clear this was going to be a raucous, indie affair. With a stellar supporting lineup start to finish, including Hak Baker, BIIG PIIG, Kojey Radical and IDLES, headliner Jamie T threw a party to rival early teen sessions when the parents were away.

Bristol-raised band Idles only UK live appearance of the summer was a highlight, and judging by the amount of merch around, was the main draw for many. They started their set with the mighty ‘Colossus’ from their 2018 album ‘Joy as an ACT of Resistance’. A perfect choice for an opener, it slowly brewed in addictive intensity before a climatic finish. Foreboding drums and vocals were suddenly interrupted by a screamed countdown, and beer cups were flung into the air as the track changed course into unbridled punk. Front man Joe shouts ‘I don’t want to be your man’ over and over, a middle finger up to masculinity, and the first taste of the deeply political stance that permeated the whole set.

The track list spanned the band’s whole discography, performed with undeniably cool stage presence, complete with floor-spitting and guitarist Mark Bowen crowd surfing, whilst wearing a flamboyant dandelion yellow dress. Highlights included ‘Mr Motivator’, from the 2020 album ‘Mono’, which was filled to the brim with hilarious seize the day metaphors ‘like Tracy Emin in her unmade bed listening to The Fall’, and ‘Mother’ from ‘Brutalism’, which had the crowd shouting in unison: ‘The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich.’ Although Joe Talbot’s anti-establishment commentary, which encouraged joyful choruses of ‘fuck the king’ and ‘fuck the government’ throughout the performance, was surely enough to make secret Tories in the crowd terrified.

The main event, Jamie T, lived up to the impressive 50,000-strong crowd, his biggest gig in a career spanning over 16 years. This was an ode to South-West London. He was wearing a Wimbledon FC shirt, and scenes from Richmond Park, Wimbledon town center, and Hampton Wick station slowly moved across the screen, harking back to his roots and the place at the center of so many of his songs. His opening number, ‘Hippodrome’, which made its live debut on the night, was no different. Focusing on young love being found in an infamous nightclub in his hometown Kingston, it felt instantly nostalgic, despite only being released three days prior.

The safety of the suburbs does undoubtedly clash with his gritty exterior, but as a fellow South West Londoner this only enhanced my experience, taking me back to the era I listened to him most. I felt underage again, sitting on Richmond riverside, with a tinnie in hand. These powerful feelings of nostalgia were shared by the crowd. A six-year career break in between 2016’s ‘Trick’ and his most recent 2022 album ‘The Theory of Whatever’ meant most of the set list had the power to catapult the audience back in time. Everywhere you looked people were embracing each other, shouting lyrics word for word, and shedding a tear over what once was.

Jamie T himself was clearly reveling in similar emotions, and all this love culminated in the encore, where he had saved the best till last. He brought out his childhood friend who inspired ‘Sticks N Stones’ to share the monumental moment he helped shape, the whole of Finsbury Park sang happy birthday to drummer Alex Robins, and a mid-concert engagement was celebrated on the big screens. It really was, in his words, “a family affair”, and as I bustled about in a mosh pit to crowd favorite ‘Sheila’, I didn’t want it to end. The evening finished beautifully with the 2014 poppy hit ‘Zombie’, cheerily crooned, as fireworks lit up the North London skyline.

Looking backwards to simpler times, filled with a more stable government, a cooler planet, and days wasted away in parks and family homes, is beautiful. This was a nostalgic event, yes, but it is times like these, surrounded by like-minded people, reflecting on how much we have grown and the special people we have met in the process, which remind us of the power of the present.

Photo credit: Sarah Louise Bennett

Source: www.music-news.com

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