SetlistOut To Get You / Sometimes / Homeboy / Lost A Friend / Honest Joe / Come Home / Born of Frustration / Five-O / Avalanche / Greenpeace / Laid / She's A Star / Tomorrow / PS / Sit Down
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Rolling Stone magazine
After a three-year hiatus from performing that was frustrating for both band and fans, James returned to the spotlight tonight with as much vitality and even more energy than ever before. Since fans haven’t heard anything from the band since getting “Laid” in 1994, no one was quite willing to wager which version of James would perform. Would the band return to its Simple Minds-style pop sprawl of the early-’90s? Crawl back into the womb for a folky new-wave twist? Or would this gaggle of idealistic Lost Boys — of whom only singer Tim Booth and bassist Jim Glennie have remained through the band’s 14-year tenure — build on the Brian Eno-inflected whirl unveiled on 1994s “Wah Wah”
The first clue came when the band sauntered onstage smiling and waving. If James once had a brooding, serious image it wanted fans to swallow whole, the band replaced it last night with an easygoing approach to good-time rock & roll. Which is not to say James dropped its social agenda — just relaxed it enough to have a good time.
With its nasal strength, seamless glide, and falsetto charms, Booth’s voice is not unlike Bono’s (a similarity even more pronounced once Eno took James under his ambient wing), and the singer poured his heart and soul into every word. And his energy was reservoir-deep: When he wasn’t working all angles of the stage, taking long gulps of water, or driving each song with his gorgeous voice (both with and without the use of his squawking trademark megaphone), Booth danced what can only be described as an asylum jig. At one point his maniacal style of celebration — picture a leprechaun on LSD — almost sent him toppling into the audience.
After a brilliant version of “Avalanche,” a song from the band’s just -released “Whiplash” album, Booth called to the back, “Hey, could you put some more light on the audience and less on us? We’re feeling a little cut off.” This obvious attempt at bonding began the strongest segment of the set, which included the current single, “She’s a Star,” the new “Greenpeace” (with its blinding cross-breed of folky rumination and techno blur), and the title track to “Laid.”
After what Booth referred to as “the ritual” (leaving the stage for the mandatory pre-encore break), the band returned for a rather flat “P.S.” and then “an English folk song,” which turned out to be the hard-thumping sing-along, “Sit Down,” a finale that, amazingly, had the crowd bouncing even higher than before.