For those in the know, Jamie Lenman is one of the most brilliant musicians to pick up a guitar in the 21st century. From his outstanding three album run with Reuben, to his equally great solo material, his back catalogue is one of the best this country has offered. Having only got into his music in the past few years, I jumped at the opportunity to see him at the intimate Manchester Academy 3.

Up first were Brighton rockers Loa Loa (6) who play fast, punky indie rock songs, and was a good way to start the evening. While they played to a fairly sparse crowd to begin with it soon began to fill, and they had a good response from the audience. Gender Roles (7) followed shortly after and they put on a great set. Also Brighton based, they play a similar brand of indie rock, with more hazey guitars and bass, and a real highlight from the set being the in between song banter from guitarist/vocalist Tom Bennett. His funny and sarcastic comments brought the audience on side before a note had even been played, and is great to see a band who don’t take themselves too seriously, while also having great songs. Both bands are definitely worth checking out.

Jamie Lenman (10) was seriously one of the best artists I’ve seen live. Maybe I’m bias, but I don’t give a shit. It’s impossible to not be bias when the live material in question is that strong. The set was heavy on his latest release “Devolver”, which should have no complaints from anyone, and the songs off it sounded great. “Hardbeat” is a perfect opener, as it starts off with a quiet electronic beat and then builds to a crescendo of crashing drums and guitar. Its amazing how powerful the sound is considering they are a two piece, and shows how a little can go a long way. Part of this power comes down to drummer Dan Kavanagh. Playing with Jamie is no mean feat, and is testament that his drumming was one of several highlights from the show.

While the set was heavy on Jamie’s solo material, it was great to have a few Reuben classics thrown in, especially the deep cut “Eating Only Apples”. While we all know by now a Reuben reunion is a fantasy, its great that he embraces his old material, without becoming a nostalgia act.

The set was split into two parts, with the first being with the band and the second part being just Jamie and an acoustic guitar. They balanced each other out nicely, and was impressive that he included the two most electronic heavy songs from his new album (“Devolver and “Boddy Popping”) and reworked them as acoustic songs. “Devolver” was an especially great singalong moment.

Jamie is a great character and his onstage chat really added to the atmosphere of the show, making it more personal and that we were just all hanging out as mates. It also helped that he looked like he was having the time of his life – I have never seen someone look so happy to be playing drums as Jamie did when he and Dan swapped on “Eating Only Apples” and “Mississippi”.

Overall a fantastic night and, should Mr Lenman be playing a show near you, don’t miss out on one of Britain’s best songwriters.

We had a chat with Jamie before the show keep an eye out for this tomorrow.

Check out the rest of his tour dates below:

February
10 The Haunt, Brighton
11 The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
16 The Hub, Plymouth
17 The Fleece, Bristol
18 The Globe, Cardiff
23 Chinnerys, Southend
24 The Waterfront, Norwich
25 O2 Institute 3, Birmingham