Jamie Lenman’s first solo album Muscle Memory is a curious beast. Where his former band Reuben played an almost perfect blend of metal and melody, he has taken the unusual route of splitting it cleanly in two and creating a double album which is on one hand terrifyingly ear crushing yet the other is as soft as a caress from a fairy liquid imbued hand. So the big question was how would two such different beasts coexist on the same stage?
The answer was as surprising as it was obvious. Opening the set on his own with banjo based ‘Shotgun House’, the first track of the melodic half of the album, he was joined near the songs end by his backing band who proceeded to crash straight into ‘Six Fingered Hand’ and ‘Fizzy Blood’, the album’s opposite half openers. Then came the revelatory (but should’ve been bloody clear to me) moment of clarity; Reuben. ‘No One Wins The War’ took the old band’s blend of shout and sweet and used it as a magnificently fluid gateway into the calmer end of the Lenman spectrum.
Highlights that marked a set list geared toward the calmer half of the album included a foot stomping rendition of the a capella ‘A Day In the Life’, plus a guest appearance from Jamie’s wife Katherine on the songs ‘It’s Hard to Be a Gentleman’ and ‘If You Have to Ask You’ll Never Know’ before the Reuben catalogue was again used as a mechanism to flow back into the rambunctious tunes, finally closing with ‘Shambles’, a piece of Reuben history.
Although the backing band did a great job with the metal songs and Reuben catalogue, without the big band and swing style instrumentation a little was lost on some of the mellow tracks such as ‘Pretty Please’, but Lenman’s ability to modify the songs for the live show only serves to prove his versatility as a musician. It’s evident enough on the album but perhaps even more so in the stage performance. Most of all though, he’s enjoying himself and the audience is in return doing the same. What more can you ask for?
We also had the privilege to speak to him before the show so keep an eye on the site for the interview to be posted later in the month.