Chain Mail / Doubts / Why So Close / Ya Ho / So Many Ways / Really Hard / Summer Song / Just Hip Hup-Springs / Billy’s Shirts / Uprising / Are You Ready? / Withdrawn / What’s The World / Wonderful / Black Hole / Folklore / If Things Were Perfect / Stutter
James are changing so fast these days it’s hard to keep touch. Their set is, by the very nature of who they are, the excitement of chance rather than a sterile pursuit of perfection, but their repertoire of feelings and melodies have expanded since I saw them last.
So has their audience who seem to have laid claim to a natural right to change places with vocalist Tim at the end of the set. As with the early Smiths, there’s a genuine sense of celebration about James that breaks the structure of the standard concert as they break the structure of the standard song.
Up until now, James records have been relatively calm in comparison with their live set, where melody will cascade in chaotic noise, fragility flip into violence and hysteria. There’s never anything easy to cling to, which has flummoxed conservatively-minded critics.
Their language certainly is personal as it was with the peak periods of The Fire Engines or Wire. James use words as sense and nonsense, language as fun and games, but beneath their layers of melodies there’s sometimes a stark and striking honesty.
James are a mile ahead of any other band in Britain, unreservedly.