Dele Fadele, NME
Technical difficulties of the generator-failure variety conspire against James on the first day, but normal transmission is resumed when they stand in for Status Quo with borrowed equipment the next. The irony is somewhat lost, as the transformation of these perfectly sane Mancunians from rustic modern folkies to stadium-hugging iconoclasts is now complete. At least Tim Booth knows how to use his new-found avant-Messiah position. By exaggerating his patented scarecrow dance, questioning and railing against God, and gently goading the audience with snappy asides, he somehow avoids the breast-beating and ego-fulfilment that comes with being a small figure on a large stage.
“Hymn From A Village” benefits from the expanded line-up treatment, just as valid a critique of the pop process as it was in those far-off Factory days. “Lose Control” is stripped of its dance undercarriage and rendered acoustically to spine-tingling effect, while “Walking The Ghost” is a work of stark, plaintive brilliance. The new songs aired show just how much James are consolidating their stand with sturdy rhythms, just the right amount of light and shade and sometimes caustic, often probing lyrics. The one dealing with frustration is an instant classic, even more salient than when Tim sings “Do you really need that Ecstasy to disarm defences?” during “How Was It For You?” a frantic encore.