SetlistWhat Is It Good For? / The Shining / Senorita / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Coffee And Toast / Say Something / Sometimes / How Was It For You? / Someone's Got It In For Me / Johnny Yen / Stutter / Stand / Give It Away / Gaudi / Destiny Calling / She's A Star / Born Of Frustration / Top Of The World / Laid / Ring The Bells
SupportShea Segar / Exit 52
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JAMES unveiled at least seven brand new songs at EDINBURGH CORN EXCHANGE last night (23 October) on the third date of their UK tour.
Lead singer Tim Booth told the crowd that most of the tunes – fairly slow, thoughtful numbers – had been written last week and hadn’t even been given titles yet. He explained that more new material would be added every day as the tour progressed.
Tim continued: “I saw Talking Heads play a set which was all new material once and it was one of the best gigs ever… so I hope you enjoy tonight”.
However, two of the new tracks not only had titles – ‘Everyone’s A Junkie’ and ‘Saving Grace’ – but were more uptempo and got the audience moving for the first time.
The packed Edinburgh auditorium had to wait until the sixth song of the gig for the first hit ‘Say Something’, and the ecstatic reaction prompted Booth to joke: “So I suppose the first five songs meant nothing to you?”
Another new track later in the set was so new that Booth had the lyrics dotted around the stage. A ‘best of’ mini-set only appeared towards the end of the gig when ‘Laid’, ‘Born of Frustration’ and ‘She’s A Star’ were aired – ‘Destiny Calling’ had appeared earlier but was halted abruptly when, according to Booth, “someone spilled a beer over the desk”. Yet another new untitled track was premiered during a four-song encore as the band tried out material on their audience.
Booth explained later that although their new studio album wouldn’t be out until April next year, the band had over 30 songs to choose from. Judging by the crowd reaction throughout the show it should have the fans’ seal of approval
It seems that now, after nearly twenty years of stutters, wrong turns, short-lived fame, proposed splits and yet more stutters, James are a band finally displaying harmony, composure and without sounding too much like any cliché, self satisfaction.
But there is also the small matter of having a damn good time along the way which is what this Autumn tour seems to represent. The third leg of which was no different as the band easily sold out the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh to a fanatical crowd of nearly 2000. In true James style though, there had to be a but involved and this came in the form of more than half a dozen new, unreleased and untested songs. This was not going to be the rejoiced Greatest Hits tour that many unsuspecting fans may have expected. Fortunately, the band found the right balance in their set list tonight.
Opening with no fewer than 4 new pieces of material, this seemed audacious and bold to say the least. The highlights of this quartet were undoubtedly We can work it out which instantly stands out with its repetitive “you can work your miracle” line and “Senorita”, a song which singer Tim Booth describes as being “about addiction” which plays very similarly to that of the Millionaires track Surprise.
With the opening tracks dispatched without hitch (before the fans got restless) we were treated to a trio of greatest hits, consisting of obvious crowd favourites such as Say Something, Sometimes and the more than welcome return of the anthemic How was it for you?. The upbeat “pop song” Coffee and toast then came into play and now each song, new or old was being greeted with rapturous enthusiasm from the hall of die-hard fans.
James carried on mixing and matching the new material with old favourites, each one a potential single in spite of Booth¹s claims to them being written only the week before. Such songs included the bouncy First on the tape, much enjoyed by the lively crowd, Gaudi, Scratchcard and The shining. The additions of older tracks Stutter and a marvellous version of Johnny yen into the mix were both memorable too.
The show was finished with another chunk of greatest hits material for the crowd to chew on. These included She¹s a star, Born of Frustration, Laid, Ring the Bells and two takes of Destiny Calling as the speakers gave way and lost interest during the first. Fortuitously, the crowd, myself included, didn¹t lose interest and of course demanded a second take.
When it comes to hearing James Best of material you know the songs will sound terrific and be appreciated by the fans. But what will have pleased the band most about this evenings performance was the response given to the new songs which to a more impatient audience would not have gone down well. Luckily for James this audience were full of energy, vibrant, delightful and naturally so were they.
The hall security was like an airport, metal detectors and loads of searching. The security men were even taking packets of sweets of the Edinburgh punters on their way in!! As a result of these human right infringements, it took ages to get in. By the time most people were in the hall, Exit 52, making their Scottish debut, had been and gone. And so onto Shea Segar. The PA system during her set was terrible, totally booming about all over the place. It was basically unlistenable, and all those rumours I heard about this venue proved to be true.
We managed to find a decent spot to listen to yet another stormer of a set from James, which opened with no fewer than 5 new ones, including Work It All Out (which is not the strongest of openings), The Shining (with lyrics like “I could be the Nazi or I could be the Jew”), and an incredible Coffee and Toast. Coffee and Toast in particular sounds well polished, and it is clear that the band have been working hard, and in only a short time since the last LP, they now have a whole host of songs which can eclipse Millionaires, Whiplash, and even Laid.
The oldies were the same as the previous night in Liverpool, although describing them as oldies does the band a disservice as there’s a freshness to James songs that none of their contemporaries (do they have contemporaries?) can match. Stutter is 20 years old, but still manages to amaze. Tim used to claim that Adrian didn’t know these songs, but if you closed your eyes, you could almost imagine Larry was back up there. Well, almost. How was it for you? has been ignored for a few years now, but it’s back with a vengeance on this tour, and again Adrian’s guitar work is superb. Stutter was preceded by Johnny Yen, and again the band assault your aural tastebuds with a powerful rendition of the stand out track from the first LP.
Stand, Stand, Stand is another new one which doesn’t disappoint, but to be fair, all the new songs were sounding great and the audience responded well to the challenge James presented tonight, as this is the most adventurous set list James have graced a Scottish stage with in the best part of a decade. The concert was briefly halted by a power failure during Destiny, so I was kind of hoping for a wee acoustic slot, but the PA system, as if by magic, came back on again. Destiny was then followed by She’s A Star and Born Of Frustration. Tim tried to get the crowd singing the Born Of Frustration “woo woo woo”s going again, like at the Royal Court the night before, but the crowd didn’t get it. There were loads of calls for that old English folk song, but the band didn’t give in thankfully, and then Top Of The World, Laid, and Ring The Bells followed in the way of an encore.
So, all in all, a spot on gig. The band seem to have virtually ignored Millionaires songs now with only Tim’s favourite track played tonight. I really wasn’t looking forward to another dodgy venue, but the show was as equally as good as the Royal Court, although it lacked a bit of the atmosphere from the night before. Finally, I must mention Scratchcard, a terrible name for a song, but another fantastic song which Mark contributes so much to with his synthesiser. I left the venue with a big happy grin, although loads of punters looked a little bemused. Maybe the set was too much for them. James refresh the parts other bands cannot (and will never) reach. For me, tonight, they did just that.