Jamie Woon – review

Brighton Concorde 2

Jamie Woon's career has been marked by the feeling that people don't quite know what to make of him. Initially, he was talked of in the same breath as James Blake, an experimental, dubstep-inspired singer-songwriter. But his debut album, Mirrorwriting, proved to be substantially less boundary-breaking than expected. And the singles have yet to hit: the thud of something falling between two stools is hard to avoid.

What tonight's audience make of him remains a mystery: a lot of people seem to have turned up with the specific intention of catching up with each other. They chat blithely on, an indication that Woon – nondescript in a black T-shirt, doubtless happier in the studio than on stage – isn't grabbing their attention. Or perhaps not: at the end of each song, they cheer, then go back to talking. Perhaps they're applauding each other's brilliant turns of phrase.

Occasionally, you get the urge to start chatting yourself. At its least appealing, Woon's music sounds troublingly like MOR pop-R&B with vogueish sound effects bolted on. This situation is compounded by the live arrangements, which favour guitar and live drums over electronics and lose a lot of the recorded versions' echoey ambience. Shoulda is punctuated by slabs of trembling sub-bass, but the song itself has Craig David all over its boink.

On the other hand, the opener, Street, perfectly balances his pop instinct and desire to dabble with sound; the fantastic Night Air has a chilly, pervasive atmosphere of early-hours melancholy. Things pick up towards the end, when Woon launches into a reggae-ish cover of Charles and Eddie's 90s chart-topper Would I Lie To You?, followed by the single Lady Luck, which – live at least – abandons any pretensions to experimentation for straightforward pop. Maybe that's what the audience want: it is followed by cheers for an encore.

Contributor

Alexis Petridis

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Jamie Woon – review

An elusive post-dubstepper who loops his own voice to haunting effect, Jamie Woon is an intriguing talent and one to watch in 2011, says Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

28, Nov, 2010 @12:09 AM

Article image
Jamie Woon review – triumphant reinvention as a transfixing soul man
Jamie Woon erases any thoughts of past career false starts with an exquisite set of precise and soulful R&B

Ian Gittins

12, Nov, 2015 @11:44 AM

Jamie Woon: Mirrorwriting - review
Don't be misled by the minimalism, says Hazel Sheffield, Jamie Woon's debut is slick but uninventive

Hazel Sheffield

14, Apr, 2011 @9:39 PM

Article image
Jamie Woon at SXSW 2011 - review

Despite seeming an odd fit at SXSW, Jamie Woon and his precision-drilled backing band get the festival crowd moving, writes Tim Jonze

Tim Jonze

16, Mar, 2011 @4:55 PM

Article image
Jamie Woon: Making Time review – back with soul and pared-back purpose
He took his time but the London-born singer-songwriter has come up with a crisp second album

Killian Fox

08, Nov, 2015 @8:00 AM

Jamie Woon: Mirrorwriting – review
Jamie Woon's cutting-edge debut risks being seen as too commercial for the dubstep in-crowd yet too challenging for the mainstream, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

16, Apr, 2011 @11:05 PM

Article image
Jamie Woon: 'It's hard to be funky if you're English'
As this year’s BBC Sound of poll longlist is announced, former nominee discusses how to swerve the hype, overcome an identity crisis, and his nu-soul album, Making Time

Harriet Gibsone

30, Nov, 2015 @1:42 PM

Article image
Jamie Woon: Making Time review – excellent, soul-styled second album
Jamie Woon shifts away from the dancefloor somewhat on his terrific, soulful second album

Lanre Bakare

05, Nov, 2015 @10:00 PM

Article image
Lovebox – review

The stars strut their stuff on stage but it's at the edges that Lovebox really thrives, writes Stevie Chick

Stevie Chick

22, Jul, 2013 @5:49 PM

Article image
Jamie Woon: 'I've always wanted to make pop'
Tipped as dubstep's first true pop star, he is the face of a shadowy subculture. But, he tells Paul Lester, while music is in his blood, fame is harder to deal with

Paul Lester

27, Jan, 2011 @10:00 PM