SetlistFive-O / Waltzing Along / Lost A Friend / Laid / Say Something / Jam J / Honest Joe / Sit Down / Tomorrow / Come Home
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Aaron Rennie, Michigan Daily Times
At last Tuesday’s Lollapalooza stop at Pine Knob in Clarkston, the Manchester, England, sextet James played an impressive 10-song, 45-minute set of compelling rock ‘n’ roll. Unfortunately, very few people witnessed James’ performance or applauded the group’s efforts, in all likelihood due to an overwhelming number of fans going to the show to see hard rockers Korn and Tool, both of whom followed James on the bill.
Despite the less-than-ideal background for its performance, James nevertheless played with much enthusiasm, determined to win over the cheese-fried minds of the Korn fans who heckled them. James commenced its set with “Five-0,” an intimate song off of James’ landmark 1993 album, “Laid.” Sporting a shiny, metallic disco-ball shirt, black cowboy hat and sunglasses, lead singer Tim Booth joked, “Hi, we’re James. We’re from Las Vegas.” When the song ended, a stagehand assisted Booth with fixing a microphone box attached to his back. Booth then muttered, “He gets to fiddle with me for free,” before violinist/guitarist Saul Davies deadpanned, “The rest of us have to pay.”
After a sweet version of “Waltzing Along,” the next single from James’ new album, “Whiplash,” the group played its biggest U.S. hit to date, the title track off “Laid.” The rather silent crowd – with the exception of a handful of diehards wearing James’ flowery T-shirts – finally came to life during “Laid,” trying unsuccessfully to match Booth’s inimitable falsetto.
Booth surprised just about everyone during “Say Something,” yet another hit off “Laid,” when he left the stage, walked slowly through the pavilion seats and onto the grass, all the while singing perfectly in tune. Numerous teenyboppers in the crowd suddenly affected adoration for the band, trying desperately to touch Booth. He then made his way back down the pavilion and back onto the stage for the rest of the set.
James followed by moving away from its more pop-influenced songs to a couple of more adventurous – and less well-received – ones, the little-known “Jam J” and “Honest Joe,” both of which can be found on the group’s free-form 1994 release, “Wah Wah.” Both had traces of techno in them, and were solidly executed. Perhaps sensing, though, that the crowd’s attention had diverted somewhat, James returned to its trademark three-minute gems.
“Lost A Friend,” from “Whiplash,” was quite winning, but the fans were more appreciative of James’ next song, “Sit Down,” a huge international hit in 1991 that inexplicably didn’t get played much at all stateside. Booth explained to the crowd, “This is English rock, a different species, but from the same tribe,” which brilliantly summed up the less-than-harmonious cultural divide between the band and the Lollapalooza audience. Nevertheless, the group earned respectable applause by many meatheads on the lawn who found the song catchy.
The penultimate song, “Tomorrow,” the intro track to “Whiplash” (and initially found in a more skeletal and raw format on “Wah Wah”), was simply stunning. James ended its set with the keyboard-heavy “Come Home,” an older song found on the band’s 1990 album, “Gold Mother.” When the group left the stage, many people were clapping, but sadly, an even greater number of unenlightened audience members were cheering that James had left and that Korn was about to come on.