Laid / Careful What You Say / Eh Mamma / Into Darkness / Bone / Five-O / Dance Of The Bad Angel / Love Hard / Sometimes / Down To The Sea / Wave Hello / Butterfly’s Dream / Monkey God / Ring The Bells / Fall In Love
So to London and the final date of the UK tour. The ICA venue is a small black room out of character with its other galleries and cinemas. You’ll have to forgive the rather fuzzled recollections of events due to my friends Mark and Alan and the people of Ceske Budejovice.
The Lovegods open the set, introduced by Tim, who is a close friend of the band. Sadly restricted to half an hour, the Lovegods show that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2005. Focusing primarily on tracks from their EP Between Dogs and Wolves, they proceed to rock the crowd and convert quite a few people in the process. You need to go and see this band very soon. Opening track Mississippi and the closer Heroin are the two stand-outs.
Tim comes on and opens with Laid, which again gets the crowd’s attention early. Careful What You Say keeps the mellow tone to the opening numbers, with Lisa adding flute to the instrumentation.
Eh Mamma is introduced by Tim as a song about waking up and finding out you’ve been going out with your Mum. He tells the story of his Mum being there in Leeds on Monday and gets heckled by some drunk at the back. Darkness is preceded by a female heckler who says something when Tim starts explaining the background to the song, Tim then wanders off into a story about a little green man who lives in a tin can. Despite the rather muffled sound (the ICA has notoriously awful sound), the faster numbers gain the power from having a standing audience and people dancing. Darkness is superb, Tim half speaking the words across a sprawling guitar sound from Lee.
Bone opens with Rob’s gorgeous sax playing and is again possibly the highlight of the set. Five-O has the crowd stunned, building up to a cresecendo of vocals and guitar at the end. After a false start to Dance Of The Bad Angels when someone starts singing loudly in the wrong place, Tim puts down a heckler with a line “if you’re going to heckle, at least be witty” and then “it’s not an invitation” when the heckler replies that Tim should know his own lines. The song itself is gorgeous, Lisa’s vocals again holding the audience’s attention.
Love Hard is rocked up even further tonight and feels like a loose jam behind Tim’s vocals and Lisa’s section. The crowd start to dance a little more, I suddenly find myself down the front for the first time on the tour.
Sometimes gets recognised from the opening keyboards and the chorus turns into a singalong, but the audience respect the calm peaceful mood of the verse and Robin’s sax part which is extremely haunting and shuts the crowd up.
Hecklers return with a woman calling Tim vain, which Tim says he’s happy to take. Tim dedicates Down To The Sea to John Peel on the day of his funeral. Tim remembers quite rightly that John was one of the few people to play James on the radio in the early years. In fact, my own personal first time hearing James was a 1985 radio session on his show.
Wave Hello, Butterfly’s Dream and Monkey God bring the main set to a storming conclusion, guitars flying around the core of the songs, held together brilliantly by Milo’s drumming. Tim lets rip full-on with his dancing, Lisa joins in on Butterfly’s Dream, Geoff Buckley performs his magic with the lights and there’s an improvised lyric section over the closing madness of Monkey God. The crowd go wild when the set finishes.
Ring The Bells opens the encore, the only “new” song from the July church shows, but I don’t think anyone cares about that. Mad dancing ensues in the crowd. The gorgeous “ooohhh” section after the first chorus just adds so much to the song.
Fall In Love with me concludes the set and is listened to attentively by the audience as per Tim’s request.
And then that’s it, the UK tour is over. Four superb nights in quite contrasting venues. A real progression in terms of performance from the July tour that bodes extremely well for the second album that Lee and Tim have started to put down initial sketches for. Getting the whole band involved in the songwriting process in a live environment is a mouthwatering prospect.