After a three year break from music, ex-Reuben frontman, Jamie Lenman made his return last Autumn with the release of his outstanding second studio album Devolver. February 10th saw him performing the new material to a packed out crowd at one of Brighton’s best loved club venues, The Haunt, and it was an absolutely brilliant night of rock n roll.
Loa Loa (6.5/10) opened up the evening, barrelling through their 30 minute set of melodic punk tunes. Frontman Josh Rowley delivered a vigorous vocal performance balancing cleaner melodies with a growling tone that showed off some hardcore influence in the punk-rockers scrappy sound. The bands latest single ‘Give Me What I Want’ was a particular crowd-pleaser.
Hometown heroes Gender Roles (7/10) took to the stage next. Their euphoric blend of grunge-punk instantly bringing comparisons with Basement and Title Flight to mind. Filled with catchy chord progressions, colourful distorted melodies and raspy vocals, it’s no surprise that tunes including ‘About Her’ and ‘Plastic’ had most of the room head-bopping along and well warmed up for the headline act.
Setting the pace with, Devolver, album opener ‘Hardbeat’ Lenman (9/10) kicked off his performance to an array of cheers and chanting voices. It was clear from the moment the first chorus kicked in that the crowd were in the palm of his hand. Despite only being accompanied by drummer Dan Kavanagh as a two-piece lineup, the live show still sounded as intense and dynamic as ever. Lenman’s frantic distortion packed guitar riffs paired with Kavanagh’s solid drum patterns made for a winning combination.
Catering to both fans old and new Lenman’s set comprised of tunes from debut album Muscle Memory, a handful of new material from Devolver and a few Reuben classics sprinkled throughout the evening. ‘Waterloo Teeth’ and ‘Hell In A Fast Car’ allowed for a chaotic onstage performance and rowdy singalongs from the audience. Lenman’s crowd interaction during the show was brilliant, the highlight of the night possibly being when he divided the room into a four way harmony during the outro of ‘I Don’t Know Anything’.
Unreleased and unrecorded track ‘Bad Friend (that was conceived just before the tour began) was a welcome change of pace alongside Muscle Memory’s ‘Little Lives’, the country/folk tunes allowed for a slight breather in an otherwise relentlessly rock and roll evening.
Alongside all the solo material, Rueben fans also had their fill of fan-favourites as Lenman teared straight into the head-banging ‘A Kick In The Mouth’ ten minutes into the set. The duo swapping instruments for ‘Eating Only Apples’ as Lenman sang away while drumming and Kavanagh played guitar was another outstanding moment.
An epic performance of ‘Mississippi’ closed out the principal set with a crowd chant that seemed to go on forever. An acoustic encore was the note Lenman left on with captivating renditions of latest single ‘Body Popping’, ‘It’s Hard To Be A Gentleman’ and Reuben hit ‘Let’s Stop Hanging Out’ that only left the packed out club wanting more and more.