Out To Get You / Really Hard / Chain Mail / Just Like Fred Astaire / She’s A Star / Laid
review by oneofthethree
In the rather cramped dark recesses of the Live Room in the basement of Manchester’s flagship HMV store, James played a very short 25 minute set with a stripped down set of equipment to fans who had queued, some overnight, for wristbands for entry to the gig and a short signing session (1 item per person, fill in the gaps please, I said 1 item…)
With an audience of people who’d demonstrated such a will to be there, the atmosphere was white hot (given the surroundings) by the time the band arrived on stage, about 25 minutes later than advertised. They kicked off with Out To Get You, a rather inspired recent addition to the setlist. As with the other shows, it’s met with delirium by the crowd and rightly so. Even on a much smaller stage, the interaction between the band as the song builds to a climax is a joy to watch. The crowd naturally love it.
Now, you’re doing an instore to promote your new singles album, so the sensible thing to do would be to pick a selection of tracks from it for a six song instore. Song two and we haven’t had a song off it so far. Really Hard sounds beautiful in the confined surroundings. Over twenty years old, it’s aged to perfection, it maintains the vitality and freshness that drew so many people into 1985/6 model James. Most of the crowd know it, so there’s little chatter.
Chain Mail again benefits from the more intimate surroundings and the knowledge of the crowd. I’d initially not been a great fan of this reworking, but it makes perfect sense now. Slowed down, allowing Tim to emphasise the words, it doesn’t sound like a twenty year old song. James don’t sound like a twenty five year old band either.
Given that there had been no tracks at all from Millionaires in the setlists to date, it’s a surprise when Just Like Fred Astaire makes an appearance, although it’s a very welcome one. The song, enhanced by more guitars and shorn of its backing vocals, sounds superb.
Tim introduces She’s A Star about an ex-girlfriend whose name in Indian meant Star. It’s played in the stripped down format of recent gigs and makes more sense in this environment, passionate yet technically proficient. The crowd, predictably, go wild. The band were due to leave stage at this point, but remained on stage to perform a short frenetic version of Laid, before leaving to rapturous applause.
Although a relatively short set and part of the “machine”, it was a great success. The band were in good form, except flu-ridden Dave. Tim, at one point, asked for all young ones to be allowed down to the front so that they could see and makes jokes about people camping out all night and a woman who wanted his hat for doing so. Instores tend to be a turn up, play the hits, sign everything quickly, and leave. Not this one.