This year has witnessed an alarming string of events striking at the very foundations of what makes James special and has done so for the past fourteen years. Here is the case for the prosecution.
Let’s start with the set lists. This isn’t a question of die-hards wanting to hear “What’s the World” or “Hymn from a Village”, it’s about challenging the audience’s expectations, doing something different every night – remember all the times the band have boasted how they tear the set list up each night and start again the next day. You set your own standards in this business.
Tim’s assertion that the band need time to ‘re-learn’ the songs and for Adrian to learn them is weak. If his old “E-Street Band” comparison is true, he’s contradicted himself immediately. Anyone who has heard Adrian play can recognise he could quite easily pick up ten or so ‘old’ songs to allow changing set lists. It wouldn’t be so unusual for James to play new songs either would it?
So what is the issue? Laziness, preoccupation with side projects, management direction to take less risks, who knows? Curiously, the set lists for the curtailed U.S. tour were printed on A4 paper – which is not used in the U.S. The mystery deepens.
Next the 3CD singles – taking the corporate game still further. I’m sure if the singles were packed of high quality new material, fans would have no issue. The real rip-off here are the appalling remixes which make up the third CD (and just how many times are we expected to buy “Come Home”?). It’s like putting an unreleased instrumental on a film soundtrack and expecting fans to fork out £15 to hear it. Now who’s just done that?
Festivals- I would take this opportunity to personally thank whoever made the decision to pull out of V97 and T in the Park on behalf of those people who’ve shelled out hard earned cash for tickets on the premise that James were playing. The good news is Glastonbury’s still on – there’s a single to promote so we can’t cancel that can we? Or we could all spend another £75 to see them at Reading.
If the festival cancellations were due to re- scheduling the U.S. tour this would be understandable. But to do it for a travelling freakshow (Lollapalooza), where real American James fans are charged exorbitant prices to see the band play short sets is beyond the pale. If you really want to crack the States boys, re-schedule the tour as soon as Tim is fit and able and market it properly. The local Seattle. San Francisco and LA listings magazines did not run any features on the band in the lead up to the recent tour and my U.S. friends tell me the marketing of ‘Whiplash” has been conspicuous by its absence. And don’t buy the doing Lollapalooza because the tour was cancelled line, as this was being discussed well before Tim’s injury.
I’d hate to speculate what. or who. is at the heart of this malaise. Is it the 15 year old girls who seem to be appearing backstage at shows? Is it the management? Or is it the band themselves -can they be arsed any more? (Brian Eno’s diary in 1995 states they were not even in the same room together for six months)
It’s just as well they’re still making the best music of anyone on the planet. Otherwise it might be all over. And for Gods sake, let’s not have a “Sit Down (97 Remix)” before the Greatest Hits album please.
What is the case for the Defence ?