SetlistTop Of The World / Five-O / Sometimes / Heavens / PS / Maria / Say Something / Don't Wait That Long / Lullaby / Honest Joe / Jam J / Live A Love Of Life / Laid / Sit Down / Sound / Johnny Yen / Born Of Frustration / Stutter / Out To Get You / Protect Me
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First things first. Tim Booth – the lead singer of James – looks really, really bad in a skirt. It was one thing for Booth and the five other members of James to don baggy, calf-length pant-suits and dresses while munching bananas, for the cover of their recent album Laid – did they mean laid, as in the French word for ugly?
But to see Booth take the Ontario Place Forum stage last night, with wild and wooly Malcolm McLaren-like hair and a dowdy dress that Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies might wear, well, let’s just say if his goal was to be the centre of attention, he succeeded. And let’s not forget his crazed and manic dance routines throughout the 90-minute performance. He’s either in line for a spot as lead dancer on the Electric Circus show, or a candidate for a strait-jacket and a room with four padded walls. Despite, or perhaps because of it all, the show worked gloriously well.
Strong, rhythmically propulsive and melodically dynamic songs like Sometimes, Say Something and Sit Down were perfect musical pivots from which Booth could flail wildly.
The 3,500-member audience loved it. Fuelled by the singer’s energy and herky-jerky antics, many in the crowd spent the show on their feet or dancing on the hills.
Other high points included a couple of new tracks that fused techno-pop with grinding industrial sounds, made all the more effective with the vocals sung through a megaphone.
It wasn’t entirely a night of throbbing rock. As with their two shows earlier this year at The Opera House, the group mesmerized the crowd with dreamy, cerebral and richly-textured mood pieces, most notably on the song Lullaby. And the band’s superb delivery of the title track from the Laid album, complete with Booth’s mid-song yodel, nearly raised the forum’s roof.
The performance was a terrific start to the summer season. But Booth needs a new fashion co-ordinator.