Laid / Waltzing Along / Sometimes / She’s a Star / I Know What I’m Here For / God Only Knows / Vervaceous / Out To Get You / Getting Away With It / Destiny Calling / English Beefcake / Tomorrow, Johnny Yen / Born of Frustration / Ring The Bells / Top of the World / Space / Sound / Come Home / Sit Down
by Stuart Ralston
A packed crowd on a cold Sunday evening in Glasgow. Given James recent lack of press, and record sales, I can’t quite believe how busy the SECC is. The big crowd could well be as a result of their show stealing T in the Park festival appearance in the summer.
The band appeared to open this evening with Say Something, but within seconds this has metamorphosized into Laid. They’ve only been on stage seconds and already James are doing what they do best; they’re improvising their way through. The perennial crowd pleaser Waltzing Along soon follows, with another storming Sometimes up next. An easy little tune, which has never failed to have an uplifting freshness despite it’s age. I had the pleasure of attending the previous Fridays show in Manchester, where I felt the opening 5 or 6 songs sounded like a band going through the motions.
Such feelings are redundant this evening, however, as James whip up the crowd with this opening mini-best-of set, which is welcomed by this evenings crowd.
This is a good solid opening, but things are shifted up a gear with the arrival of the magnificent Andy Diagram. A fantastic addition to the line up. God Only Knows is Andy’s first song, like so many other nights on this tour. When he begins, there’s a strange sense for us older fans that in recent years James have been very good, but when we are given these opportunities to hear Andy play again, they are so much better. It’s only when you hear Andy, that you realise that there has been something missing. For want of a better metaphor, Andy is the icing on a rather tasty cake. Kulas’s finest ever James moment for me comes during God Only Knows, as he is on superb form with the megaphone. With this expanded line up, James are much more creative, and flexible, and dynamic, and exciting.
Vervaceous, arguably the most disappointing song ever recorded for some hard core James fans, sounds so much better, and intense, and special, and energetic when played live. One of the finest James songs ever, and tonight is no exception with some great guitar work from Adrian as an added bonus. If only the audiences listened and got into it, rather than using this time as an opportunity to talk and go for a beer.
Out To Get You can’t match Friday’s MENA rendition (no Larry this evening), but is still one of the standout tracks, showing us just how versatile James are when they play live. Saul’s violin is beautiful. How many of today’s young rock and roll stars are as talented as this man?
Pleased to meet you has not been well represented on this tour, but tonight we are treated to Getting Away With It (which is pretty good), English Beefcake and Space (both are exceptional), but 99% of the audience have probably never heard the album before. That’s their loss.
On with the review. Andy adds more sparkling touches to Born Of Frustration, but especially on Johnny Yen. This sounds as fresh as I am sure it sounded when they jammed it out in a Manchester rehearsal room twenty years ago. Stunning. Ring the Bells doesn’t disappoint either.Again, some touches of Andy take this onto a new level.
Top of the World begins the encore, with Tim singing from the back of the arena. On his long walk back to the stage, the band take the opportunity to improvise, and take the ending off on a magical journey for a couple of minutes.
Sound is another standout track, before Come Home and that old English folk song end proceedings.
For me, James were on fire tonight. It’s only when you can hear James live, that you appreciate just how bad the current crop of bands are. James are unique, and bring so much passion, energy, and spirit with their music, that no one else manages to do. Other bands sound flat when compared to James. They were simply astounding this evening.