Jamie Woon at SXSW 2011 - review

Austin, Texas

It's a well-worn SXSW cliche for journos to talk of British bands being "out of place" at Austin – as if they expect all UK acts to turn up suppin' rough Bourbon and unveil their new bluegrass direction for y'all.

Yet Jamie Woon does seem an odd fit in more ways than one. His slightly awkward stage presence doesn't quite sit with his calling to croon directly to the three girls who've forced their way to the front row to dance. And his clean-cut image rests uneasily with the fact he's got a pen sticking out of his pocket (sorry to start laying down the law on this, but I'm not having my pop stars adorned with biros).

Woon has taken his vocal stylings from Stevie Wonder and comes equipped with the precision-drilled, soul-funk backing band to match this – the vague traces of dubstep and electronica that glide over his records are almost undetectable here, save for the odd swipe of Woon's fingers across some tiny FX boxes.
That these are big tunes, though, is undeniable. Tomorrow packs a killer chorus, Night Air's melody floats elegantly and Shoulda is an echo-laden 80s ballad that merits his dedication to Phil Collins (here's a man unashamed of his influences). Closing track Lady Luck, meanwhile, wouldn't look out of place on a Destiny's Child Best Of – and gets the crowd moving beyond his three female superfans up front. Still, if we're too see the, ahem, dark side of the Woon, he needs to work on incorporating his records' more interesting production values into his live show. At the moment, unlike the aforementioned bourbon, it's all just a little too smooth.

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Contributor

Tim Jonze

The GuardianTramp

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