SetlistDestiny Calling / Laid / Heavens / Waltzing Along / Sometimes / She's A Star / Johnny Yen / Surprise / Real World Jam / Vervacious / I Know What I'm Here For / Lost A Friend / Tomorrow / Born of Frustration / Sit Down / Out To Get You / Come Home / Sound
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Daniel Booth, Melody Maker
For James, a century on from their inception, the enormity of tonight’s show is an absurd aberration, fit only to be corrupted and lampooned. So, as the encore begins, following the first farewell of a typically swaggering “Sit Down”, Tim reappears in the seats at the rear of the arena, swarmed over by delirious, goldfish-mouthed fans. Genuine or simulated spontaneity?
Either way, it’s hilariously slapdash (Tim, stranded several miles from the band, wails “Come on guys, get back onstage!”) and the nonchalance with which it’s executed shows admirable bravura. Magnified on the screen, he gasps a breathless, “Wow!”
His astonishment at the resurrection of James’ career is touching if occasionally irritating, their we’re-not-worthy deference rivaling an Oscar-winning speech for inappropriate modesty.
But bands like James are supported by the weight of their history and they could easily present themselves as a soulless greatest hits vending machine. This puts James in the enviable position of being able to smuggle in a hatful of new songs (the sub-aquatic glide of “Vervacious” being the standout), once the crowd have been placated with some well-loved classics, be it the cyclonic propulsion of “Tomorrow” or the strumming frenzy of “Sometimes”. They can’t fail — even abandoning another newie, “Real World Jam”. Halfway through, as guitars and drums jacknife into each other, is interpreted warmly as a “they’re-human-after-all” sign, like Gary Kasparow losing a game of draughts.
“Ok, whose fault was that?” laughs Tim, walking up to drummer Dave like a solicitor approaching a witness. No one knows. No one cares. James are back from the wilderness and nothing’s going to halt this renaissance.