Release Date: 2nd November 2018
Label: Big Scary Monsters
Jamie Lenman has a tendency to do things a little differently to most. Whether it’s releasing a double album half made up of disgustingly heavy metal, and half acoustic folk ballads; or launching an innovative pre-order campaign for his latest studio album ‘Devolver’ in 2017, giving better incentives for fans who ordered the record first; Jamie certainly hasn’t taken the road most travelled throughout his career. Part of the aforementioned pre-order campaign included fans being entered into a draw to win tickets to an intimate acoustic show which provided the opportunity to quiz the man himself throughout the show. Fast forward a year and now ‘Live at St Pancras’ gives those who weren’t so lucky to be there a chance to experience that gig in all its glory.
Far from your usual live album however, this recording features the Q&A sections which took place over the course of the night and is further evidence of Lenman’s refusal to stick to convention. Whilst live albums do often feature the odd bit of routine stage banter, they tend to edit out most of the shenanigans that take place between songs; for the better in most cases. However, Jamie’s quirky yet thoroughly entertaining witticisms have always been part of what makes him stand out, so it really works to have these bits included. The questions put forward are what you would expect from such a session though they are well worth hearing for fans. There are some nice little insights into Jamie’s solo career and the reasons behind certain decisions along with some studio stories which are certain to raise a few laughs.
Of course, the main attraction is the solo performance of tracks spanning the entirety of Jamie’s career in what sounds like a stunning venue with fantastic acoustics. This is a great sounding live record, everything is crystal clear and nothing from the show has been lost in the recording and mastering process. This is especially notable on ‘Bodypopping’ where the little cracks in Jamie’s voice add that raw, human element which sets it out from the studio version and gives the track some new attitude considering its subject.
Anyone familiar with his work will know how much Jamie Lenman emphasises the importance of the songs and how no matter what weird and wonderful places he might venture to musically, it is the song which is ultimately the key component. ‘Live at St Pancras’ does an excellent job at showing that. It is striking how well songs like ‘Mississipi’ and ‘Tonight My Wife is Your Wife’, translate to simple stripped back renditions when their studio versions are so textured and centre around big chunky riffs. There is a fantastic version of Cyndii Lauper’s ‘Money Changes Everything’ which further shows Jamie’s love of song above all and serves as one of the most heartfelt moments of the performance.
‘Live at St Pancras’ feels like a celebration of Lenman’s career so far and shows the genius of his songwriting in how well some of the complex tracks translate to a solo performance. The Q & A sections add a much more personal touch and mean that at times it feels like you are getting a stand-up set on top of a musical performance. This is far from being a ‘Greatest Hits’ collection of live songs but that works in its favour, it is a must listen for fans and yet again marks out Jamie as a unique act within today’s crowded music scene.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Money Changes Everything’ , ‘Body Popping’