Brought into the limelight through his beat-making alchemy in The XX, Jamie Smith has pursued an equally acclaimed solo endeavour that has opened eyes to his unique sonic wizardry. Following the release this summer of the hugely addictive and successful debut album In Colour, he brings to Manchester's Albert Hall a live show that sold out in minutes. Smith is a guru of the sample and as a lone wolf his productions have been bloated with history tracing London’s illustrious melodic past fusing soul, garage, jungle, grime and bashment into his records. Not to mention the youngster has proved himself as one of the leading remix artists in the country; Jamie’s productions are both soulful and marketable breaching the middle ground of underground and mainstream.
As the Boiler Room’s host Tasker warms up the evening, positivity surges throughout the Albert Hall. The people are strikingly excited for the headliner and the venue teems with pockets of fans feverishly discussing past sets, In Colour and what’s to come – a grand unveiling of Smith’s prolific debut to a Manchester audience. And as the set starts, it’s transparent that he is delighted with it. Met with a loving turmoil, he drops into the dapper grooves of All Under One Roof Raving, giving us our first taste of the rich memory ingrained in his tracks. In a homage to London’s nineties subcultures, we are shelled with flavours of hardcore and jungle – this is, after all, the sample guru at work – and the iconic steel pan stabs we are so acquainted with, those Caribbean flourishes still sounding so fresh.
Jamie then launches into the choppy, floor-rattler Gosh. It’s one of those rare dancefloor grails that achieves such warmth and euphoria that crowds are left uncontrollably beaming. Traversing house, garage and jungle, he eventually arrives at dancehall and grime selections, gifting the crowd with track-of-the-summer Good Times and falling neatly into the Skepta and Frisco rework. Jheeze. Then Jamie moves on to softer pastures with Loud Places and the crowd echoes the hooks. Surprisingly the spectral nature of Romy’s voice is well suited to the Albert Hall and the song goes down well before plunging into a celebration of the sample, playing Idris Mohammed’s Could Heaven Ever Be Like This.
In Colour is truly one of the most innovative albums to be released this year. The tracks featuring his fellow band members are so similar to the work of the XX that perhaps Jamie has exposed the real creative force behind the band’s success – and with the disappointing second XX album perhaps Jamie has cast a shadow over his past ventures? Nonetheless, this is a tour deserving of the praise it has received so far.
Words: Charlie Fyfe