SetlistOut To Get You / Ring The Bells / Seven / Come Home / Goalies Ball / Riders / Sit Down / Next Lover / How Much Suffering / Maria / Top Of The World / Walking The Ghost / Protect Me / What's The World / Sound / Johnny Yen
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Andy Spinoza, Manchester Evening News
James have been touring the world for three months, including supporting American giant Neil Young in the States, and as lead singer Tim Booth suggested, with some Yank inflexions in his voice, “he’s taught us how to play acoustically.”
Billed as an acoustic set, the term applies more to the style of music than a lack of electric amplification – classic James songs like Sit Down, Poison, Johnny Yen and Walking The Ghost gained from being stripped down to bare essentials, thought the quieter moments tended to be lost among the youthful audience, out for a pre-Christmas night of boistrous fun. Though without departed trumpeter Andy Diagram, the band – ranged in a line across the stage with the drummer far left – looked like a bunch of seasoned travellers returned home with stories to tell. These emerged in new songs which sounded terrific on first hearing, including a powerful hook in a song in a epic-sounding number about America.
Tim Booth’s voice, as ever, is the keynote of the live set, as strong and rich as ever, able to swoop across the fertile terrain of guitars, violin, and a variety of keyboard instruments.
Add to the formula a stunning layout of modern art and light images on three rectangular backdrops, and this was one of the most impressive gigs, from a band approaching their swollen stadium status with control and maturity, that I’ve seen this year.