The encore of this gig was recorded for the Old Grey Whistle Test.
So Many Ways / Skullduggery / What’s The World / Not There / Might As Well Be Friends / Summer Song / Johnny Yen / Just Hip / Island Swing / Discipline / Chain Mail / If Things Were Perfect / Scarecrow
The last Big Noise to burst forth from an ICA Rock Week was The Jesus And Mary Chain and this they did literally when scowls from the stage gave way to scuffles in the foyer. This might explained the “police presence” outside the prim bunker-like venue on the first night of “I Want Independents” week. But really, they needn’t have bothered.
See, James are nice boys, raised on Mama Morrissey’s milk of tragicomic humanism (I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when singer Tim wailed “An earwig crawled into my ear / Made a meal of the wax and hair) and gloriously devoid of trappings.
So the amps stayed miraculously upright, drummer Gavan stayed (for the most part) behind his Ringo-style kit – leaving the music to dwell amongst us with good deal of swank and even more swell.
To explain : James have completely redefined the traditional rock dynamic by replacing the ingenious devices of tension and release with … well, one long crescendo. So a song like “Prison” goes from bulky bass chords and hamstrung high-life guitar propped up by Tim’s nursery rhyme vocal melodies to a polyrhythmic explosion charged by octopus-armed Gavan and animated by Tim’s preacher man paroxysms.
The tease and dare is reinstated by James unique, not to say camp, delivery. And here lay my reservations for the evening. Music suffers from being bathed in contentment: what’s needed now is a more restless approach from this over-rehearsed quartet. But such nagging pales beside the simple fact that these grinning Mancunians have revamped the tones of guitar rock without replacing them with a worthless rattle of meaningless murk.
The next Big Noise.