Setlist(incomplete) : Pressure's On / Don't Wait That Long / PS / Five-O / Sometimes / Basic Brian / Skindiving / Honest Joe / Lullaby / Laid / Sit Down
Cathy Maestri, The Press Enterprise
James was deft and dazzling, masterfully building its Monday night concert from a hypnotic, atmospherics-laden beginning to a wild exuberance and a big, sweeping sound.
It’s taken the English band nearly 10 years to break in America, but the success of “Laid” is paying off; the sellout crowd at the Palace was waiting for the big hit, yet everyone knew the words to a somber album track, “Out to Get You.”
The six-piece band’s different elements shone brilliantly, from David Baynton-Power’s crisp drumming to the chiming sound of Larry Gott’s slide guitar, while Saul Davies played his violin to soothe at times and grind at others.
The center of the magic is enigmatic singer Tim Booth, his clean voice calmly hypnotic. But his shy demeanor is belied when the music seems to possess him and he goes into spasms, his thin body wracked as he dances.
James opened with a series of low-key atmospheric numbers, easing into the haunting “P.S.” and “Five-O” from “Laid. ” Mood established, they stepped things up with “Sometimes (Lester Piggott),” Booth grinning as the crowd became fluid and started to bounce.
For the night’s most spectacular production, a mirrored ball at Booth’s feet during “Skin Diving” projected a stunning galaxy of colored bubbles, winding him into its center.
The audience exploded for “Laid,” which got a very basic treatment from the band while the crowd concentrated on jumping around.
The wonderfully anthemic “Sit Down” was met with a thunderous response – ironically, Voice of the Beehive covered the song at the Palace not so long ago, when James was still relegated to playing small clubs in LA.
The pace continued with “Low Low Low” and its wobbly percussion, the ringing “Say Something” and the war whoops of “Born of Frustration.”
It took awhile for the stunned (or exhausted) crowd to bring the band back for its semi-acoustic encore, which fittingly closed with the uplifting “Ring the Bells.”