INDIE favourites James are set to Come Home to the M.E.N. Arena as part of a surprise reunion tour.
The band split up six years ago when frontman Tim Booth used a farewell show in the city to sing Sit Down for what was meant to be the final time.
But the famously energetic singer tells me that the time is now right for a greatest hits tour and a new album.
“If you’d asked me last summer whether James would get back together, I’d have said `Not on your life’,” he says. “I think none of us wanted to look cheesy. A lot of bands go back and re-form and it looks cheesy.
“But in the last number of years, I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band re-form, and I went to that gig and it was one of the best gigs I’d ever been to in my life.
“And then I went to see the Pixies last year and the gig they did was absolutely fantastic.
“And then I thought, `Well, cool people do it, too’.”
Booth says he has already recorded demos of new material which will appear on a forthcoming James album but that it’s unlikely that much of it will be available in time for the five-date April tour.
And he explains that a James reunion wasn’t originally part of the plans when he started working with old band-mates Larry Gott and bass player Jim Glennie last year.
“Then just a whole load of things happened where different members kept ringing me up and talking about the idea,” he adds.
The tour will also provide a golden opportunity for younger fans who never saw James perform.
The band was one of the most consistent chart-topping outfits of the nineties, scoring numerous hits, including a March 1991 number two with Sit Down, and once playing a traffic-stopping gig for 5,000 fans from the roof of a building overlooking Piccadilly Gardens.
James supported The Smiths and were supported by The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Radiohead.
Unlike many of their contemporaries, however, James were better known for meditation and vegetarian diets than drugs and drink.
Booth still enjoys discovering all things New Age when he isn’t making music or acting – last year he played Judas in the BBC’s Manchester Passion – and says that he’ll be certain to show off his trademark shamanic dance routine on stage.
A teacher of the mystical Five Rhythms technique of meditation, he adds: “I still do an awful lot of dancing in my life, so I’ll be certain to do it on stage if my Zimmer frame doesn’t get in the way.”