SetlistLaid / Waltzing Along / Tomorrow / She's A Star / I Know What I'm Here For / God Only Knows / Protect Me / Out To Get You / Hymn From A Village / Someone's Got It In For Me / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / English Beefcake / Sometimes / Johnny Yen / Born of Frustration / Ring The Bells / Top Of The World / Sound / Come Home / Sit Down
More Information & Reviews
So it’s over. An era has come to an end. And what a way to go. Sentimentality by the bucketload, but as stunning and unpredictable as James have been for a long time, surpassing even the Manchester show on Friday.
Laid and Waltzing Along were subdued openings to the set, the sheer emotion of the night weighing heavily on the band and crowd. However, a dedication of Tomorrow to Paul Gilbertson, without whom….., lifted the fog and the song sounded louder, more heartfelt, more powerful than ever before with Saul in particular on fire pounding like a demon possessed across the stage. Game on.
She’s A Star brought an equally delirious response, with Tim perfecting his ragdoll dance before taking to the speaker stack stage left. What was clear was that he had saved possibly his best vocal performance I can remember for this final gig. This followed into a hyper version of I Know What I’m Here For with Tim changing the lyric to “don’t know what I’m here for.” Adrian and Michael were in fine form, both more active than at previous shows.
Andy Diagram appeared at the back of the stage and Tim announced that they were going to do a song prepared specially for tonight. “What For”, “Seven”, we all thought. Sadly, or not as it was to turn out, it was God Only Knows. And it was simply mindblowing with trumpet, three guitars, bass, drums and keyboard all fighting for space as Geoff Buckley provided the stunning lighting backdrop.
Another special guest appeared – Larry Gott sauntered on stage with his self-designed Conran chair and the rest of the band except Jim and Tim left. Protect Me was a simple and yet a heartbreakingly poignant moment. Out To Get You followed, slightly marred by the audience clapping drowning out Larry’s slide guitar. A wonderful improvised ending recalled old James circa 1992-3.
And then possibly the musical highlight of the evening. “Our second single” as Tim described it, Hymn From A Village was powered off, Tim reeling off the lyrics as if competing with Larry’s frenetic guitar to get to the end first. Absolutely magical.
The 2001 James returned for a runthrough of Someone’s Got It In For Me, Tim losing himself in a trance as the band raised the tempo to a simply stunning climax. You have to wonder how what he does next can even bring him close to the highs he experiences at these moments.
Pleased To Meet You was thankfully not neglected. “Our new anthem” Getting Away With It was first and was a slight disappointment. English Beefcake more than made up for this with Saul outstanding on violin, his much neglected tool of the trade. Brian Eno joined the band on stage for the conclusion of this track.
Sometimes followed next and was another musical highlight of the evening. Eno stayed on stage to sing backing vocals and took them to a new plain. Even Jim and Adrian were moving around as the song built and built to the climax of Tim, Eno and Michael chanting the chorus line, before the band went into a improvised instrumental ending never previously heard before. The improvisation spirit of James had suddenly come back – a song that had always had a straighforward treatment was raised to a completely new level. Absolutely astonishing it was too.
Johnny Yen drew massive cheers from the crowd, Andy’s trumpet call in the opening section setting the scene for a cacophony of noise as the song drove to its climax with Tim and Andy prowling the stage urging the others on.
Born of Frustration and Ring The Bells followed in the same vein. Andy’s presence added a new edge to Frustration, giving it back its calling card trumpet. Ring The Bells was simply immense, building, getting faster all the time to a cacophony of noise interspersed with a rap from Andy whilst Tim danced himself into an altered state.
And that was it. The band left the stage to a huge ovation, clearly moved the reaction they were getting. The waterworks opened for some fans as the reality of the situation began to sink in.
Back came Jim, Adrian and Mark to play the opening bars of Top Of The World before the spotlight turned to the back of the arena where Tim appeared to sing. For his violin part Saul appeared on a balcony stage left. The audience focus on these two did unfortunately take some of the attention off a wonderful spine-tingling bass line from Jim.
Larry reappeared again and the band opened up Sound, over ten minutes of aural stimulation, each instrument fighting with each other for space, creating a whirlpool of noise that no other band on the planet could hope to match with Tim’s faultless vocal holding the whole thing together. Again, the presence of Andy’s trumpet took things higher.
Then they left again. To more frantic massively deserved applause and much emotion. We knew they’d be back though.
And so they were. The opening bars of Come Home rang out and the crowd went ballistic. Fitting to the evening, this was the strongest performance of this track for a long time, superbly paced to capture the raw emotion and power of the track.
And then there was one to go. And we all know what it was to be. A beautiful keyboard opening by Mark over which Tim and 10,000 of us sang the opening verse and chorus before the rest of the band came in to take the song to a celebratory but not-in-the-slightest-bit cliched ending with several fans helped on stage by security to fulfil a James tradition of stage invasions.
The band then bade their farewells, the crowd keeping them on stage for a full five minutes to show not just their appreciation for tonight’s stunning show, but for providing so many of us with a soundtrack to our lives, a rock in times of need and the source of so much joy and inspiration.
Whether we were there at the beginnings or came in with the Best Of or later, there was something for everyone, the set was unpredictable but representative of James. A truly unique band in a world where formula and genre are all important. To put James in an appropriate box, you’d have to make a box especially for them. A fitting end to an era of the greatest band of our times. History will serve them well.
Well, there was never going to be another James concert quite like this again. In all truth, that statement could be applied to most James gigs down the years – but this time it was going to that bit more unique than ever. Certainly three members of the night would never be seen live with the band again and of course it was Tim Booth¹s big farewell. And that gave Wembley Arena an almost eerie feel as James took to the stage in this form for one last time.
Looking back on it now, its very hard to express the feelings I had and probably most of the crowd shared. Firstly, it was a privilege to be part of Tim Booth’s last ever concert for after twenty years with James it was to be a ‘were you there?’ type of occasion. But then what I felt was despair, for as James kept hammering out the hits we so know and love, you instantly knew you would never hear them played live again – certainly not like this anyway. And you could feel the band were both nervous and anxious….maybe this wouldn’t go quite as smoothly as hoped. And above all I and many others felt sadness and at times leading up to that opening song, I really didn¹t want to be there to witness this. Like saying good-bye to a close friend its never easy at the best of times.
But the band were here and were ready to do a job. The first three numbers Laid, Waltzing Along and a Paul Gilbertson dedicated Tomorrow were played tentatively and the first two sounding slightly awkward and forced even. They certainly weren¹t received with as much energy as the fans in Glasgow the previous evening. But as said before this was always going to be a difficult performance especially for the first few songs anyway. But I know what I¹m here for or as Tim seemed to call it Don’t Know What I¹m Here For got things moving and settled the nerves. Brilliantly delivered by the band, as always it was a real crowd pleaser. Same could be said of She¹s a Star another song to take its final bow (well, I say final as I can¹t another singer pulling it off as brilliantly as Tim) The song created a real connection between the band and audience as it has done many a time down the years and numerous gigs.
“Oh look it¹s Mr Andrew Diagram” said Tim as the man himself almost in shy but equally charming fashion took the huge applause of the crowd. Like in Glasgow he looked right at home – his trumpeting skills used expertly throughout the night. And firstly we heard them on the roof raising God Only Knows. The crowd loved every second of the song as did Tim who for one final time effortlessly found words to sum up his view of religion and god in the song’s mid-section over an ever building crescendo of guitar, drums and keyboard behind him. Like many of James less well known songs it has always been a true gem that no band could come close to emulating. “So now we¹ve covered religion, lets move on to shopping” says Tim.
The turning point of the whole night which still felt a little tense was the surprise return for one last time of the much loved ex-guitarist James Larry Gott. With no offence to Adrian Oxaal or Michael Kulas intended, this is someone who was always missed and never quite replaced. Most of the band who had been full of energy all night so far then left the stage as Tim, Larry and Jim joined together in centre stage to play an acoustic Protect Me. A touching little song which had been overblown on the Seven album returned to its bare essentials tonight and it was much better for it. Not only did it move the audience emotionally, it moved the band too.
Larry continued on-stage for possibly the finest ever Out To Get You and he was immense back playing the lead guitar parts he once commanded like no other. It didn’t get any better or more emotional than this. But it certainly was going to be equalled by the more than welcome return of 1985 single Hymn From A Village. It was almost like being transported back into the 80’s, the song starting with that cack-handed drumbeat and leading into the Paul Gilbertson’s unique guitar playing style, impersonated by both Dave and Larry as always and it helped to remind the audience of just where this amazing band evolved from. Tonight this was something to be treasured as finally all the nerves and tension from the gig had gone. It could now become the perfect farewell party we wanted it to be.
Someone’s Got It In For Me was definitely going to be Tim’s solo performance of the night. A song that he¹s always been completely and unashamedly proud of and it was sung full of passion as always. It serves to remind us all of how good a singer he is and what he gave this band. The last single Getting Away With It or as Tim described it “James theme song” got the crowd moving and out of their seats again before the glorious English Beefcake was played with another special guest appearance. As the song moved into its closing section, another figure quietly made his way on-stage. This was as the big screens soon revealed James father figure and main producer of the last nine years – Brian Eno. And again it was a privilege to see him together with Tim singing the gorgeous little finale tothe song.
Sometimes had curiously been left out of the set lists opening tracks (unlike at other venues on the tour) so we should have known it was to get special treatment. And indeed Eno stayed on-stage to sing the hymn like choral finale to one of the finest songs ever written. The finale this time was brilliantly stretched out for over two minutes as Dave dipped in and out of his drumbeat underneath the band’s continuing vocals. It was the perfect way to hear it done one final time.
With the atmosphere at a real a high, the official last trio of the night began – once more joined by the sublime skills of Andy Diagram. Johnny Yen was delivered wonderfully by the whole band and Andy¹s new trumpet section over the songs climax really lifts the song to a new level. This song must have been done more than ten different ways down the years, each one as good as the next and that’s testament to how good a song it is.
Two songs from Seven then came into play to close the set. The first Born of Frustration which will always stand out as a James classic,whipped the crowd into a frenzy right up to Tim’s last ever unique vocal cry.
And then Ring the Bells. This song has hardly sounded better in its eleven year life. The song now builds up to a quick fire, intense conclusion with each band member giving their all up to the riotous ending.
Magical. Then, the band briefly leaving the stage before the first encore seemed to leave many fans in sudden realisation that this was all soon to come to an end – yes we all talk and hope for new beginnings but I don¹t for a minute suppose any fan will ever dream it will be as good as this again. And although few tears had already been shed by some fans, but it wasn’t over yet.
Adrian, Mark and Jim took the stage and began gently easing into the intro for Top of the World, a song which musically defines everything Tim says in the dreamy lyrics. But by now Mr Booth had made his way to the back of the arena and was singing his heart out in the company of many an adoring fan, all with their arms outstretched trying to get a touch of the person who had so many times touched them emotionally in the past. And it was fitting then that Saul was revealed up on a near stage balcony, playing his heart warming violin notes which often seem to leave the hardest of James fans moved to tears. Tim glared back up at the band he was leaving as the band played back to him and there was a real mutual appreciation for what the two had done for and with each other down the many years of worries and triumphs.
Then back on stage came Tim, Larry, Andy, Mike and Dave as James ended the encore with an epic nine man version of Sound. A song which could only be James was gifted Larry and Adrian¹s joint flashes of guitar, Andy’s magical trumpet calls, Mark’s ear piercing and futuristic keyboard effects and Saul and Jim’s wonderful acoustic reprise before the song built back up to a blazing wall of sound in which typical James fashion, music began to sift through the ever-growing cacophony created. Very special, very unique and altogether very James.
And once more, the band took the applause and ovation of the fans, but we knew they¹d be back. And they were, walking on together for the first and last time as ten members complete with Brian Eno once more. As Tim said to the fans “what do you want to hear?” this led to the only disappointment of the night. Maybe four or five fan requested songs from each James era would be played especially for the occasion? Well……no, that would have been the cherry on the icing on the cake as they say. To have heard such rare songs as What For, What¹s the World or Five-0 or even a b-side would have been nice. But as it were we¹d just have to settle for two of the best James songs ever!
Come Home was a celebration in itself sparked by Andy’s trumpet, Mark¹s keyboard line and Larry and Adrian both simultaneously bashing out their different guitar parts from over the years.
But no sooner had it ended when the opening keyboard line to Sit Down had quietly begun. Was this really it? Well unfortunately it was. As before in the tour, the song built up into the anthemic sing along it will always be remembered as. The band just loved every second of it and the fans never looked more animated in the whole night. Once Tim had finished the final chorus, the song was lengthened out just like it was in the early 90’s and here at this point there was never a bigger vibe or unity between the band and every fan. And we even got that typical James stage invasion as ten or more people joined the ten onstage members, making the occasion as lively and happy is it got.
Then the song stopped, the huge volume of cheering began and the band left their instruments to join together at the front of the stage one final time. The fans united in singing Sit Down and the night was truly a celebration. James must have stayed at the front of the stage for nearly five full minutes taking in what they thoroughly deserved from the fans. And now I was truly glad to be there.
But then they were gone and so were the fans – some in tears naturally, others expressionless like myself. Maybe I should have cried – I felt like I should be and there so wanted to be. James had played such a big part in my life and my growing up that I felt I deserved to be crying. But I couldn’t – partly because at first I was numb with it all and it was a bit much to take in. Though at the end of it all I realised why I wasn¹t crying like so many others ; I was happy. Happy for the band and happy it had all ended in such a perfect way. Most bands come and go without a trace and never get to play a concert like this. But James could not have left their fans any prouder.
History has never seen another band quite like them and the future will probably never conjure up anything as barmy, odd, complex and downright brilliant as James. Tim has now gone along with the likes of Andy, Paul, Larry, Gavan and less noticeably Danny Ram and as always the remaining members will return in some form of that we know. But this final celebration should be how we remember the name James. And why will we remember them? Well, quite simply to oppose what one certain journalist recently wrote, we will remember them because, they mattered!
Deciding to go to wembley on the very last moment, I was incredibly lucky (I’m getting used to this). Of course I could only get a seated ticket (and for a terrible spot, I’m afraid), but my dear friend Jayne managed to swap it for a standing ticket just a couple of hours before the show. 🙂
I tried to get to the standing area a while before Turin Brakes started, I wanted to be on the right side of the stage and as close to it as possible. I got lucky, once again finding the perfect spot right in front of Michael Kulas.
I was expecting some surprises for this special night, but I got much more than I expected. For starters they actually changed the setlist! 😉
Laid was a great song to begin with, people were singing and dancing along right from the start. It was fun to be in the middle of all those british fans (well, and also danish, german, and american), and everybody seemed to know almost every song.
I was crossing my fingers that James would play Waltzing Along, and it came right after Laid, with a remark from Tim: “A happy song for a happy moment!” I wasn’t so sure if this was a happy moment but, as the show went on, that’s how I felt. Tim was happy, Saul was happy, Michael was happy, Jim was happy. I saw Adrian smiling (he’s got a pretty nice smile!) and Mark too. Can’t talk about Dave though, he was a bit far and hiding behind his drums.
I’m not going to talk about all the songs of the show, but I tell you they were energetic, happy and the crowd loved every second of this show.
I was wishing they would play Top Of The World and they let it to the first encore. Only Mark, Jim and Adrian were on stage though, so when Tim started singing we were looking around to find where he was. And he was far in the back of the arena, in the middle of the crowd. I could only see him through the screens, but it seemed to me that the fans back there loved it, specially the ones who got to hold Tim’s hand (I bet they were in shock for hours!). When the violin part came, I wondered what was happening. Where was Saul? Could this be a recording? Noooooooooooooo. No way!!!! Saul was on the left side of the stage, on a high level, near the front of the seated places and not too far from the stage. I must say I enjoyed this “large stage”, including almost the whole venue, and the people who were close to Saul and Tim at that time must have appreciated it as well.
Higher points of the night: Andy Diagram, Larry Gott and Brian Eno and also the attitude of the band.
I had never seen Andy Diagram live and I loved it! He’s a “show man”, if you get my point, moving around the stage, playing with Tim, going further in the front, teasing the audience – he was brilliant!
As for Larry Gott, his best moment, in my opinion, was when him, Jim and Tim were playing the acoustic version of Protect Me. I don’t know if it was because of him, or just the song, but it was a magical moment. Oh yeah, and that chair he made looked pretty nice!
It was fun to see Brian Eno sharing the stage with the band he was working with for so long. I didn’t even know how he looked like, so I had to ask people who was that man when he got on stage. It was funny to see him trying to dance “à la Tim”, and Michael sharing the microphone with him in the song [Sometimes]“of the boy who wanted to be struck by lightening”. Actually I was very happy to see Michael back to his usual self, cheering up the audience, jumping around, singing, dancing and having fun. That’s exactly how I wanted to remember him as a part of James.
It was an incredible night. I lack the words to describe it. I felt amazed and happy, there were times when I stared at the band in amazement, a total admiration of the talent these guys have. I danced, I screamed, I yelled, I sang, I jumped around as I do when I’m happy. When it got to the end of Sit Down (the last song), the people were singing it back to the band, again and again and again. It felt like forever, it was a brilliant moment, maybe a way for us to say thanks to those fabulous musicians who mean so much to us. The band was happy and so were we. We had been on top of the world together, and it was great!
As a final remark, I have to say that James are a brilliant band, who wrote beautiful and powerful music. I was glad that I got to know the band and probably almost every single song that they’ve created. And some of these songs, like Sound and Johnny Yen, that were played that night have a characteristic that I haven’t found in songs from any other band. They build up in a crescendo, growing more and more and then, either they end in an extremely high moment, or they go back to a quiet place, as if there’s a moment to rest and then, maybe, they’re going to do it again. Let’s hope that whatever comes from James will be another high.
David Cheal, Daily Telegraph
THE departure of Tim Booth from his position as lead singer with James has not exactly shaken the pop world to its foundations. The Manchester-based band have been together for nearly 20 years and although they have won a sizeable following in that time, and have gained a reputation as one of the festival circuit’s most reliably entertaining acts, I suspect that the nation is not lying awake at night wondering how they will cope without Booth.
Nevertheless, what was impressive about this show (the final date on their UK tour, and therefore Booth’s last ever appearance with James) was the affection and esteem in which Booth is clearly held by the band’s fans: by the end of the night I even noticed the beginnings of a lump in my throat as the crowd clapped and thumped and sang the praises of this wiry, wired performer.
The night was also notable for a live appearance by Brian Eno, who, during a long association with the band, has produced several albums for them; he joined them on stage for a couple of numbers singing backing vocals. Live appearances by Eno are vanishingly rare – I last saw him with Roxy Music in (I think) 1973 – and here he behaved like a man who has suddenly found a new purpose in life, dancing in tight, twitchy little steps and singing the chorus to the hypnotic Sometimes with gusto. It was not what you’d expect from such a notoriously studio-bound creature – has a frustrated rock’n’roll frontman been lurking behind that benign countenance for nearly 30 years?
The show itself was pretty much what we’ve come to expect from James: lots of warm, melodic, churning epics, but also a couple of googlies tossed in to confound the punters (the crowd seemed bemused by the almost unlistenably frantic God Only Knows), followed by a final chance to sing along to Sit Down, the band’s anthem, which sparked off massed cavorting in the ranks.
Then, finally, it was farewell, and the noise was thunderous. Booth, who says his decision to quit was “intuitive”, is planning to pursue various creative projects, including music. I hope he relished his moment of glory, because it’s hard to imagine that he will ever again be feted so lustily by so many.
James Berry, Crud Magazine
It is a cliché, though when they’ve spent near on two decades skirting around them, or wriggling clean from their restraints with glittery snake-hips at any rate, it’s an allowance you’d expect as they make their final stand. But there really isn’t a single dry eye in this house tonight. For a man who’s made a career from dancing across imaginary minefields, Tim Booth – for it is he that’s leaving and he on whom our eyes are undoubtedly focused, as far as they can be – looks like he’s actually found himself in an emotional no man’s land for probably the first time.
With legions of elated unsuppressed fanatics before him and generations of band line-up around him, having just finished a burgeoning run through arguably and aptly the best version of commercial signature tune ‘Sit Down’ they’ve ever committed to a stage (slight tinkering audience-supported verse, pounding live chorus, stimulating climax – undoubtedly still a cracking song) he looks almost lost, drifting gracefully through every one of those final gig clichés.
Of course, it would have been easy for this final curtain call to melt amongst the mutterings of non-existent album sales, lost record deals, below capacity gigs and as a sum of all that, or maybe on top of it, the feeling that James’ peak, relevance and even reverence, was now nothing more than a fading speck confined to their background. But if this has to be a wake then everyone’ll be draped uniformly in trademark flower t-shirts, sat in regulation cross-legged salute, beaming with thoughts hooked only to the highest times. As accomplished as the last album ‘Pleased To Meet You’ was then, a consistent vintage return to form after the bitty ‘Millionaires’, for the occasion (save for a sturdy ‘English Beefcake’ and so so ‘Getting Away With It’) they choose wisely to ignore it. A memorable two-hour, 20 song best-of set, only made all the more worthy by the fact that they still miss half your favourites (no ‘Say Something’, no ‘Fred Astaire’, no ‘How Was It For You’!?), assures you can leave with only the right dynamite and decidedly off-kilter lasting impression that they surely deserve.
Because although these tunes may not stand comparatively alongside many of today’s scene-led trends, not only do they as a band seem like the last of a kind (I mean, who else is there that embodies their huge, sprawling, group-embodied, visibly heart-felt ambitions? Gomez maybe?), but the songs breath with individuality, more often than not beating a path to your raptured attention. ‘Sometimes’ remains the most beautiful storm, ‘Sound’ ruptures inspiringly from delicate to distinct and damning and ‘Come Home’ reminds of a time when they did skim closer to a scene, rumbling with colourful baggy delight. Harking back to an era when they were still eccentric electric folkies with Manchester blood running through their veins, the furious impassioned preaching of ‘God Only Knows’, the virtuoso build of powerfully stark ‘Johnny Yen’ and the stripped down acoustic ‘Protect Me’ see a couple more bald associates adding to the occasion.
Ex-guitarist Larry Gott (Tim: “When you leave James you lose your hair” ) and legendary producer and Mr Roxy Music, Brian Eno (dances like your dad), strike a chord with the audience, Larry especially, and at least give it more of a party feel. But tonight is all about Tim Booth. The way he howls vocal aerobics across the likes of ‘She’s A Star’, ‘Hymn From A Village’ and a divine ‘Top Of The World’ (performed from the back of the arena).