Whatever dark tunnel Jamie T was working his way through in the five years between second album Kings and Queens and last year’s Carry on the Grudge, Glastonbury 2015 was the light at the end of it.
Two years ago, he explains with a mildly bitter air, he was watching the festival on a pub TV when a fellow drinker asked him when he’d last played. Jamie told him he was the only act ever to headline the John Peel stage twice. “Well we’re lucky all that’s over then,” the man replied.
That night, in a fit of pique, he wrote Peter, an incensed punk diatribe about the voice in Jamie’s head that hates his music and “wants me dead”. It was the black hole at the centre of Carry on the Grudge and tonight’s most vitriolic moment of paranoia and self-hate. And from there, the only way was up.
Admitting to nerves – “although I don’t think anyone at this festival is gonna look as nervous as Kanye West did on that crane” – he seems like a singer edging his way tentatively back into the limelight. His role as the jaunty urban rap poet of London low-lifery has been handed down to Rat Boy and the cathartic weight of his album hangs heavy.
Opening with narcotic rap anthem The Man’s Machine and the haunted choral pop of Don’t You Find he feels his way towards the rabble-rousers (Rabbit Hole, British Intelligence) via a particularly poignant solo Back in the Game and Emily’s Heart, an endearing ode to faithfulness. So when he strikes up the 100%-proof cartoon dub bounce of Sheila and reconnects with his youthful, drunk-hugging hip-pop tyke he looks like a man taking his twelfth step.
The crowd feel born again too; Sticks’n’Stones and Zombie spark some of the most riotous singalongs of the weekend. Rehabilitation complete.