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Jamie T and Blur – Live at Perth Arena

– by Hannah Nissen

 

There’s this theory I heard not long ago, about why, as we get older, time seems to go so much faster. These talk show hosts were saying that as we get older we experience fewer new sensations and emotions. We end up filling them all under the same category; work, exercise, meals, and so on, and so forth. Our minds filter them through as no extraordinary event, basically triggering ourselves to forget time as it literally passes us by. Last Thursday night was to be my first time in the Perth Arena, it was definitely the first time I would go to a Blur concert with Jamie T. And it was also the first time I found out the hard way my shoes weren’t actually as waterproof as I had hoped. As I dredged the kilometer or so to the stadium, trying to tip-toe through thick puddles, already in a damper mood than that promising morning, I heard the large crowd gather, and prepared for the night ahead.

As I saw Jamie T enter from side stage, and the people bundle in from all areas of the Perth Arena, my heart-rate began to quicken as I took it all in. Jamie T begins to coo the lyrics to ‘Turn On The Light,’ I started to lip sync the words in support. At this point the noise coming from the people meeting at the vestibule for last chance drinks and mingles was louder then the bashful Jamie T, hidden beneath the black of his cap and dragging no attention to himself with almost nothing but house lights. I couldn’t help but feel the opening few songs were given less than they deserved from the crowd, as the introspective and resonating force behind his poetry got a bit lost in the vast space. I became the embarrassingly loud woo-girl that I hate, merely to show support and encourage the older crowd that gathered to stop with their work quips and cleaning tips and actually pay attention to the magic happening onstage. It may have been all in my imagination, or mainly for failure to hear each other over my mighty WOO, but slowly and surely, I saw a chain reaction of one member in the crowd turn their head. And then the next. And then the next. I was at the front of the seating area, and I noticed during a bruising rendition of ‘Murder Of Crows’ an unbroken recovery of volume issues with Jamie’s guitar as he signals the tech guy to turn it up, foot tapping and cockney rapping without ever missing a beat. By the time he swung into the melancholic ‘Love Is Only A Heartbeat Away’ I could see most of the crowd now paying attention, and after taking a second to revel in the fact that I very well may have the most powerful woo in history, I revel in the couples taking a second to revel in the triplet lyrics that could break your heart. The band members dispersed but for the chorus, leaving Jamie T’s croon and poignant words speak for themselves and stand alone.

Winning over the now amply prepared crowd, Jamie hung up his guitar and gained momentum in energetic deliveries of songs such as ‘368’ and ‘Rabbit Hole.’ It is in these songs I finally get a glance at the cheeky ragamuffin confidence that Jamie so thoroughly deserves to have, given his talent. I get excited realizing his previous five year absence may have just given the young, South Londoner’s Carry On The Grudge the credibility he deserves. Songs like ‘They Told Me It Rained’ showed that Jamie has dropped the impetuous bundling of words that could have been overlooked in his earlier work, for a more succinct significance. Looking around the room as he jumped from the favorite ‘Sticks and Stones’ to the contagiously bouncy ‘Zombie’ you could see, as he edges his way tentatively back into the spotlight, he isn’t going anywhere.

For someone that perfectly encapsulates the fear and anticipation of growing up, his performance emitted a great atmosphere of nostalgia that anyone would want before seeing Blur and reliving the soundtrack to the 90’s.

As the crowd started back up with their rabbling, the legendary members of Blur roll onstage to thousands of screaming fans, and a jolted sorbet overture of the children’s song ‘Teddy Bears Picnic.’ Right off the bat front man and genius Damon Albrook wakes everyone from their everyday stupor, throwing bottled water over the standing crowd, the photographers, the band members, in real superstar fashion. The boys jumps into one of their latest ‘Go Out,’ and Albrook starts doing laps of the stage, covering every surface, even, at one point bassist Alex James, jumping a little too keenly off the raised level for Dave Rowntree. With Albrook offering the audience more then what they paid for in stage presence and with James, Coxon, and Rowntree superseding the ticket prices in sound presence, Alburn’s comment “It’s been a while I guess, just a generation or something like that,” echoed a luminary reverence.

Playing an orderly succession of old hit, new hit, Blur was as in your face as you would expect them to be during the Leisure era, and with just as much smooth styling to match. Moving through old hits like ‘Badhead’ to new instant classics like ‘Ghostship,’ I have to say, although I never expected I would say this, the highlight of my night was not the effervescent moment Alburn invited four young cockney geezers onstage to spit a rendition of ‘All The People.’ Nor was it the moment Alburn diva’ed out and refused to play ‘Song 2’ until every person in the room was standing. The highlight of my night came from the space-age reflectivity from the mirror ball and the ambience-soaked ‘Thought I Was A Spaceman.’ The atmosphere ricocheted with Albrook’s clarity transcending the space into space, although the lights and the lasers that flashed demanded attention, it seems that not an eye in the room was not looking at what can only be described as spontaneous combustion onstage. As the refrain howled and Albrook jumped out into the audience serenading some very lucky members of the crowd and aiming to shake almost every hand that was put in front of him, I couldn’t help but feel an incredible pride as he seemed to look upon everyone of us fondly, actually believing we linked eyes during a coo of “by the empty harbor.”

Ending their legendary 2 hour set with 1995 hit ‘The Universal,’ I walked outside laughing a little, as I saw over half the crowd recording the set with their iPhones, and I left the arena to a lady giving out free copies of the West Australian.

Up until last week, I believed I couldn’t experience anything else that could make me love Damon Albrook and the boys in Blur anymore then I already did. Of all the things that was felt that evening, there was no doubt I could file this under “revolutionary” and move on. And walking from the Arena, any other day would have been ruined the second I stepped outside and learnt about my shoes lack of durability.

Walking from the arena in the rain I could definitely feel the squelching of hour long wet socks, and though I’m not here to say the good experiences can make you forget the bad, as I skipped in the rain with a copy of the West Australian over my head as shelter….the squelching made a perfect beat to almost every Blur song as I sang and cemented them in my mind, and I realized that its experiences like this that can make time stop feeling so important at all.

 

Photo Credit: Matthew Picken

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