Born Of Frustration / Tomorrow / Sit Down / Out To Get You / Bubbles / Upside Downside / Ring The Bells / Gold Mother / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Laid / Sometimes / Come Home
review by Mike (takemeanywhere)
Upside love you
Downside Miss You
A more appropriate lyric was never written to describe the way I feel writing this review. The love I feel for this band is that unconditional kind of love usually only given by pets and babies. I guess the only difference is that my love includes an overwhelming pride and a protective quality, akin to a lion with her cubs. I even feel that the love is requited. Not on a personal level, that would just be weird, but band to audience. That’s the upside. The downside is that I’m gonna miss them like crazy. Yes, they need to disappear and write an album but these weekly james sojourns have become addictive and habit forming. Not seeing them again for a month or so, I could handle but next year just seems so far away. So, how do they leave me feeling after our final tryst of 2007? Read on if you care.
It’s a bloody miserable day. It rains in a way that suggests that ‘somebody up there’ doesn’t much like music festivals. There is really no need for it, although the rain has caused far more despair in the UK this summer than in my living memory. And I’m not trying to compare a muddy festival to the flooding of peoples homes, I’m not (quite) that crass. However, people look forward to events like this and it is heartbreaking to see such abject despondency. One guy even sells us some beer tokens at a reduced rate because he is “giving it up”. Even Peter Kay walking on the stage to introduce our heroes can’t bring a smile to the faces of the masses. James do though.
The setlist is the one that james have been taking around Europe over the course of the summer. No alarms and no surprises here. They do play Bubbles and Upside Downside in the middle of the set, which is a brave move in the early evening slot of a major festival. It is clear that the crowd wants the hits but whilst the new songs are not given the hushed reverence that they were given in Edinburgh, the chattering is kept to a minimum. The band has earned this level of respect due to the opening salvo of monster hits. Born of Frustration throbs and swaggers, Tomorrow soars and Sit Down bounces along in time to the crowd. Or something. Then they play Out To Get You and I look around at thousands of people mouthing the words “Insecure, what you gonna do?” and can barely believe that this was once an obscure b-side, before it’s Laid treatment. It thoroughly deserves it’s place on the Best Of album. Bubbles sounds better with every listen and I have made my feelings on Upside Downside known on many occasions before. Nothing about today’s performance alters my opinion (humble of course) that this could be a hit of epic proportions.
The new songs are followed by another run of james classics and the crowd lap it up. Ring The Bells is greeted like an old friend, Gold Mother sees dancers brought on from backstage because the festival consider the, now customary picking of people from the crowd a “health and safety issue”. Getting Away With It receives a more lukewarm reception than of late. Laid doesn’t. Sometimes is introduced by Tim as the final song and I believe him. Afterall, their allotted time is up. So, will this swirling epic be the final live james song for me this year?. The lyrics certainly hold great resonance today in the pouring rain. However, the festival allow them to run over time and the band choose to close with Come Home, just as they did in Belladrum. Some time after they finish playing, whilst walking in the mud, I decide that this is a far more appropriate way to part from my lover. I just hope that they come home soon.
So there’s no Play Dead or Chain Mail, which the bloody-minded james of yesteryear may have indulged in. Today is a day for giving the people what they want, not a day for blowing a great opportunity. Maybe, just maybe this time the band want it enough to succeed. Tim, Jim, Larry, Saul, Mark, Dave and Andy, you are loved more than you’ll ever know and the upside will always outweigh the downside.
Gavin “I’m a Real Journalist honestly” Haynes (NME)
As Tim Booth gazes out over the crowd presently lapping up ‘Sit Down’, his alien eyes take on a wistful, dewy look. He’s missed this, you sense. This is what he lives for, hell, what he was born for.
That’s nice, Tim. We’re happy you and the dream have been reunited, and this state of affairs can probably persist for another few festival seasons. There may yet be enough residual love out there. But only, only, if you play hits and nothing but.
To general head-scratching, James bounce from hit to bellyflop to hit, following ‘Sit Down’ with… something… about eight minutes of violin, flute, Boothy crooning the secrets of the cosmos, and some indistinguishably woozy baggy, yup, something, that hangs in the air like Eau de Shaun Ryder’s Corpse. After ‘Sometimes’, we are coached through their forthcoming single ‘Who Are You’. It’s not a lesson we will forget.
Best Song: ‘Laid’
Best Moment: The way that Boothy’s dancing has lost none of its hippy-dippy tinge. After all these years, he still comes on like a trout attempting semaphore. On drugs. Naturally.