Getting Away With It … Live (DVD), a 2002 Live DVD/VHS by James.
James released a concert and features VHS and DVD entitled Getting Away With It Live on Monday June 10th 2002 through Warner Music Vision and an audio only CD entitled Getting Away With It Live on Sanctuary Records on the same day.
The DVD centres around the Manchester Arena show on Friday 7th December 2001 and features other bonus features including introductions to the songs, documentaries, promo videos and other special items. The VHS video and double CD feature just the concert.
The gig footage is be in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
There was also a second DVD release that contained the 20 track video DVD of the concert, a 20 track audio CD, but didn’t include the features material.
Full DVD Release:
Song DVD: Say Something / Waltzing Along / Sometimes / Laid / God Only Knows / Someone’s Got It In For Me / Vervaceous / Protect Me / Out To Get You / Johnny Yen / Getting Away With It / Tomorrow / Born Of Frustration / Ring The Bells / Top Of The World / Sound / Space / She’s A Star / Come Home / Sit Down
Features DVD: Hooligans / Craft Work / A Drummer’s Tale / The Tradesman’s Entrance / Number 2’s / Saul And The One Note Solo / Eno / Getting Away With It / Missing Links / The Good The Bad And The Profitable / Exit Booth
Promos: She’s A Star / Say Something / Laid
CD + DVD Combo Release:
CD: Sit Down / Sound / She’s A Star / Tomorrow / Sometimes / Getting Away With It / Waltzing Along / Say Something / Laid / Ring The Bells / Come Home / God Only Knows / Vervaceous / Protect Me / Johnny Yen / Out To Get You / Someone’s Got It In For Me / Born Of Frustation / Top Of The World / Space
DVD: Say Something / Waltzing Along / Sometimes / Laid / God Only Knows / Someone’s Got It In For Me / Vervaceous / Protect Me / Out To Get You / Johnny Yen / Getting Away With It / Tomorrow / Born Of Frustation / Ring The Bells / Top Of The World / Sound / Space / She’s A Star / Come Home / Sit Down
Music videos and DVDs are usually pretty shit. They don’t capture the adrenalin of the live performance and ultimately disappoint. There are very few exceptions – the Come Home live video being a prime and very relevant example and the benchmark here for the live element of the DVD.
The DVD starts with the band backstage waiting to go on stage, the bellowing noise from the audience clearly audible as they mooch around. Onstage, the band then crash into Say Something and it’s evident that this is going to match, if not better, Come Home. The choice of camera angles captures perfectly the performance, focusing on key performers at key moments. The main focus is obviously on Tim, but the others are not neglected in the mix. The sound is spot on, the nuances, subtleties and sheer quality that often gets lost when you’re having the life squeezed out of your lungs on the barrier or having the world’s worst karaoke singer hollowing in your ear are all there. You even get the odd shot of the crowd, mostly young nubile things rather than some of us older uglier farts or the heaving mass stretching way back into the arena. This was a memorable gig and it all starts flooding back, tinged by the obvious sadness that we’re unlikely to ever experience this again.
The set covers almost all the songs performed. Hymn From A Village and I Know What I’m Here For are missing. But what’s there is spot on. A band at the peak of its rather substantial power. From Tim’s emotion evident in every note, in every facial expression to Jim’s seemingly ageless expressionless grace. Saul eggs the crowd on as only he can while delivering some stunning guitar and violin performances. Adrian really stands out with some virtuoso performances. Dave’s drumming is as manic, energetic and driving as ever. Less in your face but there adding colour and shade and underpinning the sound are Mark’s keyboard and Kulas guitar and backing vocals. Andy’s trumpet is a joy to behold, an extremely welcome and sadly shortlived return. Larry Gott puts in unmistakeable performances on Protect Me and in particular Out To Get You.
Say Something, Waltzing Along, Sometimes and Laid are rattled off for starters, songs played hundreds of times before, but still fresh and invigorated as if the nerves created by the cameras drive the band on rather than stifling them. God Only Knows is possessed, some superb mixing on the visual effects and Geoff Buckley’s lighting show, simply adding to the crescendo of sound the band create.
The mastery of James is then proven beyond doubt as the pace turns full circle into Someone’s Got It In For Me and Vervaceous. Tim once told me off for saying in a review that some of the tracks on Millionaires weren’t a patch on the live versions – judge for yourself, but I think I was right. Adrian’s performance on Vervaceous is simply breathtaking.
Larry comes on for a emotive performance of Protect Me with just Tim and Jim, before picking up his slide guitar for Out To Get You, complete with false start. It’d be unfair to ask anyone to play that as well as Larry does as he’s not lost any of his brilliance, just his hair. What is great is the banter in here – comments on working with amateurs, Tim’s pretend speech about unprofessionalism when it goes wrong and then the performance is almost indescribable, so I won’t even try. You could almost miss Saul’s brilliance on the violin in the the vocal interplay between Tim and Larry – you even can forgive him his offkey backing vocals. And we don’t get the asylum story from Tim either!
There’s an inexplicable cut of Hymn From A Village that ruins the synchronisation of the show – Tim says goodbye to Larry and Saul’s equipment goes down at the end of Out To Get You and then, almost by miracle, they’re both back for Johnny Yen. Discussions on what to do next ensue – unfortunately you can’t catch what was said, but what you get is nine members of James improvising old favourite Johnny Yen, first performed in 1983, almost 20 years ago and still sounding and looking as fresh and vibrant as ever. Trumpet, violin, bass, three guitars, drums, keyboards and Tim’s semi-improvised lyrics build to an unmistakeably James crescendo. For all their power and dynamism not even U2, in my own opinion before I get lynched, can match this.
Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) motors along, building up its own momentum. The simple lighting background and judicial mixing of the video again just bring home what a great and wickedly overlooked song this is.
Tomorrow, like God Only Knows, powers along, the mixing of the video matching the pace and intensity of the song and Tim’s increasingly impassioned vocals as it builds from its opening to a blurred crescendo of drums, trumpet and guitar at full tilt. There are some strange shots apparently taken from the crowd itself.
Born Of Frustration sees Tim climbing up into the crowd to the right of the stage as the standing area heaves up and down. Andy’s calling card trumpet pervades throughout the song as the band play on as if unaware and uninterested in Tim’s wandering.
Tim returns to the stage for the final song of the main set Ring The Bells. How could a song this good only get to number 38 in the charts? Here, as ever live, it is a highlight, Saul prowling the stage, Dave battering the drums like a man possessed as the song gets faster and faster to its end. Andy adds an indecipherible rap over the top and that’s it. The band leave the stage milking the well deserved applause.
Top Of The World sees Tim and Saul up high up in the seats either side of the stage. It’d been done before on previous tours and had become a little predictable, but it works wonderfully visually on the DVD as the arena is darkened and the spotlight focuses in on them, whilst Jim, Adrian, Larry and Mark play almost nonchantly down on the stage.
Sound has the full contingent of nine back on stage again, Larry and Adrian performing together and Andy on trumpet. Stretched over nine minutes with its switches in tempo, Sound has always been an aural and visual high point of the set, no mean feat over the length of the song. Again the lighting and camera angles, particularly the close-ups of Tim’s frenetic dancing and the interplay between the band, do not disappoint. The band leave again to an even more rapturous response.
Space is a surprise – both as a choice of a second encore track and just how good it is. The live version has much more spirit and emotion than the more staid album version. It’s a little sad that Pleased To Meet You is restricted to just two tracks on this DVD as it’s a sadly neglected work. But there’s a nice shot of some of the front row singing along. Adrian’s performance again deserves a particular mention – looks like Tim got him to be the rock guitar god he always threatened to just as he was leaving.
The live show then finishes off with perhaps James three best known tracks. She’s A Star is a wonderful almost camp run through, testament of the band’s ability to write truly great songs brimming with power and passion without crossing the line to becoming overblown. There’s a lovely panning shot over the arena which is a mass of upraised arms.
Come Home is just fucking brilliant (I’m running out of words to use here, so please excuse the swearing). It almost rambles along, the cameras hone in on Tim’s pointed delivery of the vocals, there’s lots of delirious crowd shots, close ups of Mark’s wonderful and often ignored keyboard lines. The languid trumpet from Andy takes the song back to former glories and it’s like Manchester 1989-90 had never gone away.
Sit Down is an absolute mess. Despite Tim’s threat to “stay all night and play obscure b-sides” (yeah, go on then, start off with Lazy….). Mark starts off with the keyboard intro off the extended 1989 version which was sadly lost in the more popular 1991 version. Cue Tim, in a James Lasts t-shirt. singing over the keyboards, lots of joyful audience shots singing every word back before the band kick in for the chorus and the arena goes mental. The second verse is similarly hushed before another raucous chorus. The song’s taken down again, the audience drown Tim out, before another chorus and a glorious beautiful elongated end section. It might have been released three times, been played to death, be the only James song your friends know, might not be the best song musically James have ever written, but it’s the greatest anthem of unity and togetherness ever. So there!
And that’s it. The band acknowledge the crowd, the crowd acknowledge the band. Everyone smiles even though it’s a sad occasion. You could say it’s very good.
So what about the rest of the DVD?
The two documentaries are actually one – a forty five minute trip through the story of James told by the players themselves. It’s done in a similar manner to Kevin Smith’s classic Clerks with each section having its own title. Whilst there’s very little new information here, it comes with a very different and very personal slant on it. A story told from start to finish by the band from the pre-James days through to Tim’s departure. It’s also interspersed by soundcheck snippets of How Was It For You?, I Defeat and What For.
Jim, in his own inimitable jovial style and located at Man City’s Maine Road, talks about his past in Moss Side and how James came about, Tim adds his story as to how he joined and the ealrand the others add their stories as the chronology of the documentary continues. You even get the strange scene of Tim semi-singing the lines “I have a way with girls. Me being so good looking. I have a fantasy. I want to be raped by a woman”. Larry also contributes to the story of the early years.
There’s a focus throughout on the songwriting methods stemming from jams, from the Withington scout hut in the early eighties, through the late eighties at the Beehive Mills where James rehearsed (and where Dave is located for his interviews), to the sessions for Laid with Eno and Adrian’s entry during the recording of Whiplash. Saul recalls his story from the Band on the Wall club where he was “discovered” by Larry on an improvisation night.
The band talk through problems with radio stations and getting airplay, the well-documented situation with record companies and how they triumphed over adversity to finally break both daytime radio and the charts. There’s a section on Brian Eno’s contribution to the band and the recording process including snippets from the man himself. The band also talk through their gig preparation on the day of the concert including a snippet of a meeting to decide the setlist, their approach to risk-taking and improvisation and their reactions when they get on stage.
There’s also some hilarious snippets of interviews with fans, two blokes who got into James with Strip-Mine and who think Sit Down is “shite” and two women who don’t realise Tim is leaving, Jim making a confession about their reluctance to be photographed in the early years, a tourbus discussion on Tim’s love of Val Doonican and Adrian telling the stories of busking with Saul in Hull and being hit by a bottle at V98.
There’s also an honest appraisal of Tim’s departure and the band’s, and particularly Jim’s, reaction to it leaving hope for the future of James and the satisfying feeling that Tim departed on good terms rather than an acrimonious split.
The promo videos are pretty standard fare – the “clean” version of Laid (“she only sings when she’s on top”), the second version of Say Something filmed in New York (rather than the original gorilla in a cage video) and She’s A Star.
The “Hidden Bits” appear to be short interview snippets which kick in between menus.
This DVD is a fitting end to a chapter in James history and a stunning document of everything that is good about the band. It shows a band at the peak of its powers live. Rather than simply give us a live video, the band have gone the extra mile to provide us with the documentary which is both informative and interesting and the promo videos are a nice bonus as well.
|Release Date:||10 June 2002|
|Label:||Warner Music Vision|
|Catalogue:||2 x DVD release: 0927 45160-2; CD+DVD release: Warner Music Entertainment 5051442914023|
|Additional Musicians:||Andy Diagram, Larry Gott|
|Recorded:||Manchester Arena – 7th December 2001|
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