review by Beatriz Ogeia
I can only try at putting into words the emotions running last night [November 23] at the last “James as we know it” gig in Lisbon. The emotion on Tim’s face as the entire room continuously sang ‘Sit Down’, to the point where he told the others to stop playing and simply stood there and listening and grinned…. the way he jumped from the stage to receive the closer admiration from the front line fans, singing as close to us as humanely possible… the way he received the bows 3 guys next to me (and I joined) did to him, like subjects to their king, lol… the happy look on every single member of the band… to the point where everybody joined in the dedication Tim did of ‘Sit Down’ to his niece’s 18th birthday the following day (she, along with her mum, Tim’s sister – she really looks like him! – were standing on the side).
I all started a big shakily, as there was a big gap between the end of the support band act (the very good Suede-alike portuguese band Plastica) and James coming on stage. Everybody was getting impatient and calling for them. From my privileged point on the front row I could see lots of comings-and-goings on the bottom of the stage, and I believe it was due to some technical problems with the sound fixings. On a totally wild guess I think they were still discussing some finer points on the setlist, like how to end… maybe not so wild, because only after roughly 40 minutes were the setlists put on stage and in it there are 2 songs corrected by hand to the printed sheet; in the end they didn’t even play those last songs’ order (yes, I got Mark Hunter’s setlist 🙂 and the names of the songs I’ll use here are as written there )
It started off with ‘Say something’, ‘Waltzing along’ and ‘Laid’, and all through the concert Tim’s dance moves were such a part of the songs that they almost gave them a whole new touch and feeling. The crowd was going wild, and when the first notes of ‘Sometimes’ started there was almost no need for Tim to sing… This was the song when the photographers were allowed in, along with ‘Señorita’ and the ‘violin-song’ 😉 ‘Beefcake’. Tim was completely flirtting with the cameras, it was really funny to watch. That last part of ‘English Beefcake’ lasted (almost) as long as we, the crowd, let them, and even Tim mixed up where there should be ‘still’ or not 😉 This introduced the slower set of songs, with ‘Vervacious’, ‘Ghost’ (the first time they played this song live in 6 years!) and the beggining of ‘Space’, picking up pace again on an upward spiral through ‘Come Home’ and ‘Frustration’. On the introduction to this one Tim commented that this venue (the Lisbon Coliseu) was the first one they played in a proper gig here in Portugal back in 1993, and the floor nearly collapsed when they played this song: “let’s see if it happens again”, he said with a huge grin. Needless to said we happily obliged in trying 🙂 During this song Tim came down from the stage, and sang really close to the front row, letting himself be touched, and nearly jumping over the fence right next to me! We thought we couldn’t rise any higher until ‘Getting away with it’ started, and his moves in trying to immitate John Travolta’s dance, unsure if to stay with Staying Alive or Pulp Fiction really made me laugh! Next came ‘Star’, and that, according to the setlist, should have been the last one before the encore. Tim did say that, but we simply couldn’t let them leave yet, and they were enjoying themselves so much they couldn’t stop either, so they proceeded immediately to ‘Ring the Bells’. The crowd provided all the back-singing, prolonging the song, again, and the smiles on their faces as they finally did the break were extremely contagious.
After a very short time they returned, announcing that the next song was not Ring the Bells, despite having the same chords. Oops, they told us not to tell anyone, ehehe Most of the people didn’t understand/hear this, so when the music began they started singing Sound again, until Tim launched his vocals for ‘Tomorrow’. By this time the setlist was definitely not being followed… Then came ‘Sit down’, and as I said before, Tim dedicated it to his niece’s 18th birthday (she jumped/danced a bit on hearing this 😉 ). I couldn’t stand the emotion by this time, everybody singing, jumping, at one with the guys on stage… Tim just standing there and listening to us, happy, and I’m sure a little sad for it all to end… They made to leave after this one, but still they played ‘Out to get you’. A sort of goodbye, from Tim…
Now for the life of me I’m not sure if this was the last one: a blankness descends, the setlist has stopped, the emotions are too raw… I think it was… maybe they played ‘Sound’… we wanted more, but… it was the end…
All through this gig you could feel a sense of timelessness in the mixture of old and new songs, a continuity and oneness with the audience that ‘new’ bands simply don’t have. It’s hard to see all this come to an end, and despite everything, the future will necessarily be different. You could also see this ‘goodbye’ to Tim in the choice of lights: the spotlight was on him the whole time. Goodbye…
I left feeling exhilarated