SetlistLaid / Sometimes / Waltzing Along / She's a Star / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Ring the Bells / Lost a Friend / Johnny Yen / Sit Down/ Born of Frustration / Out to Get You / Space / Falling Down / Senorita / Tomorrow (partial setlist)
Without so much a courtesy as letting the public know, James’ slot was swapped with the Divine Comedy’s, so instead of showing up at 12:40, as scheduled, they appeared on stage at about 2:00 am. They seemed to be in good spirits, and started out with, if my memory doesn’t fail me, “Laid”, initiated with the now usual “ándale, ándale, arriba!” Speedy González cries (which would be more appropriate in a Mexican environment rather than a Spanish one, and even that is debatable). From there on the night was a zig-zag of crowd-pleasers and lesser-knowns, particularly those from Pleased To Meet You, where as far as I´m concerned, seems to have never been released in Spain at all. The band was cheery, although I couldn’t avoid feeling Tim was acting a bit mechanically, but that may be just because I saw them 3 times in like 2 weeks last year. Saul was, as usual, trying to grab a little attention, both by his appearance on stage (showing up with an open shirt and completely getting rid of it later on) and by appropriating the microphone once in a while. It was funny, though, when, after they had said goodbye, he ran back to say something and discovered the mics had already been switched off.
Their setlist was quite long, or at least it seemed that way, considering it was a festival. My estimate is that it lasted about an hour and a half. I was beginning to conclude the resceduling was to let them perform longer, but when Hooverphonic came on stage after them I realised they were not the last band of the night. The crowd was surprisingly participative, singing along and jumping and dancing with the band, which was a nice surprise. My guess is that there were around 10,000 people there, maybe a bit more. The camerawork, displayed on two screens beside the stage, was also a welcome novelty to the previous occasions I had seen them, and very well managed, as well as the sound quality.
The songs I remember they played were: Laid, Lost a Friend, Johnny Yen, Sit Down, Born of Frustration, Ring the Bells, Out to Get You, She’s a Star, Space, Falling Down, Getting Away With It and Señorita (dedicated to the Spanish ladies). I´m ashamed to admit I don’t clearly recall if they played Lose Control, Say Something, Just Like Fred Astaire or maybe some other song off Pleased to Meet You.
I´ll add a bit of value to this attempt of review by mentioning that El Pais, Spain’s most important newspaper, threw in a very cool, almost page-size picture of Tim the next day in their report of the first day of the Festival. They mentioned James, despite being a band whose glory days were behind them, whose last album was “dense” and who were not quite fancied by the majority of the attendees, were the stars of the night, albeit out of sheer musical craftmanship. “Tim Booth is convinced his music still has a purpose, and applied his skill and veteranship to round off a concert that pleased his followers but probably earned him no new ones”.
I´ll finish with a little personal appreciation on the execution of the new songs. In posts to the James mailing list, I have mentioned I am very fond of the first and last 3 songs on the new album, all but one of which were never performed live in last year’s fall tour. All of the songs in the middle were, and I had already developed a strong appreciation for them (Junkie, Señorita, What Is It Good For, Pleased to Meet You, The Shining…). Listening to them on the album they sound weak and cheaply recorded, unlike the openers and closers. I can now add assuringly that I prefer the studio versions of Space and Falling Down over the live versions.