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.


Alexis Petridis

The GuardianTramp

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