Written by Sophie Wyatt
Last night saw South London singer-songwriter Jamie T and his plethora of fellow artists take to the stage in Finsbury Park. Playing his biggest ever headline set, the mere mention of Jamie’s name throughout the day set fans ablaze with anticipation. As the park began to fill to its 50,000 person capacity, the clouds sank in the rain showers started but spirits were far from dampened as rising star Willie J Healey gave a rousing opening performance. Closely followed by East Londonder Hak Baker. Downing beers and swigging rum on stage, it was clear Hak was here to raise everyones spirits, and while it may have taken a little while to get into the rhythm of the huge stage, the singer and his band soon found their groove and had people at the front of the crowd jamming away happily.
Biig Piig was up next. Switching up the vibe completely, Biig Piig’s fairy-like presence brought a more ethereal feel to an otherwise indie/rock day. The Irish singer and rapper included a lot of her classically known songs in her set, including summer bops ‘Sunny’ and ‘Feels Right’. With the help of her band (including the fellow emerging artist Raquel Martins on guitar and backing vocals), Biig Piig’s set and unmatched energy brought some metaphorical sunshine to the day. After a quick set change, British Ghanaian Kwadwo Abu Genfi Amponsah aka Kojey Radical was next up. Using his music to combine elements of rap, funk, soul, spoken word, fashion and art, Kojey’s love of this work was palpable on stage. While each song had its own sound and purpose, each song ran into the other seamlessly. With call outs to his upbringing, race and community around him, Kojey created an amazing balance of political and emotional stand points. During his set, three young lads near the front made their love for the artist clear by reciting every word to every song. After finishing up he ran down the centre of the crowd straight into the arms of the boys who looked like all their christmases had come at once. It was a heartfelt moment that moved a lot of the crowd who witnessed it, and certainly made the boys day.
As we waited between sets, the crowd began to fill up bigger and better than any other time throughout the day so far. A sea of IDLES t-shirts appeared as they moved their way to the front. Making their only UK live appearance of the summer, the British punk rock band were highly anticipated as several amps were brought on stage, followed by the five band members. ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’ and ‘I’m Scum’ were amongst the anthems the band played, much to the excitement of the crowd who moshed with grins from ear to ear. As smoke machines pumped mist onto stage, sweat stuck hairs to faces and backs of necks, and the final song built to its crescendo the band met in the middle of the stage to head bang their way off the stage.
With a crowd fully surrounding us, it was time for the one and only Jamie T to take the stage. Opening with some new tracks scattered amongst classics such as ‘Limits Lie’ and ‘Spider’s Web’, Jamie commanded his presence on stage effortlessly in a Ralph Lauren shirt and football shorts. After a few tracks, the iconic musician stopped and looked around, taking in the ‘biggest moment of [his] life.’ Going through a number of older tracks, long time fans were amazed to hear songs such as ‘Operation’, ‘If You Got The Money’ and a fan favourite ‘Emily’s Heart’, for which Jamie played on stage alone with just his acoustic guitar. Expressing that he has now been in the music industry for coming up to 20 years, he exuded pride as he spoke to the crowd. World renowned track ‘Shiela’ was of course a favourite, along with brand new track ‘Hippodrome’. As the night quickly edged on closer and closer to the end of a spectacular show, Jamie introduced long term friend and the man who handed him his first guitar to the stage – Joe Bispham. Explaining that his track ‘Sticks ‘N’ Stones’, was written with the inspiration of Joe, the pair sang along to the chorus together on stage while the crowd jumped around reciting every word. Following this, Jamie had a couple of announcements – a happy birthday to his drummer which was a followed by a serenade from the crowd and a cake; followed by a proposal read out by Jamie himself. Finally the band geared up for one of Jamie’s biggest songs ‘Zombie’. After playing the first part of the song, the band stopped and the crowd were left on the edges of their seats for the songs iconic chorus. After a good 5 minutes of waiting, the audience were positively buzzing, which led into a euphoric rendition of the track. With a bow from Jamie and his band, the crowd left the park on a high after what can only be described as an exceptional day.