Launch day in-store gig for Hey Ma with crowds queuing up through the night
Hey Ma / Whiteboy / Boom Boom / I Wanna Go Home / Waterfall / Upside
So, the day everyone had been waiting for and that many of us never thought we’d ever see. James unleashing another new album and what a corker it has proved to be. Business was brisk at 8 this morning as people queued for the album with the added incentive of wristbands for this intimate gig down in the basement of the flagship HMV store in Manchester.
If the short set is an indicator for the tour, it shows the band in rude health, except Tim still struggling with a back injury, which combined with the cramped stage, didn’t really allow him to dance. Hey Ma is very quickly developing into a singalong anthem, however wrong that might sound given the subject matter. It sounds crisp, fresh and alive. Whiteboy stands comparison with the rest of the album more live than it does on record, Tim’s admonishing ah ah ah ah ah ah ah and wagging finger combined with the cowbell makes it the most fun track in the set. Boom Boom, shorn today of the string-drenched end section, replaced by an extended full-band outro is fierce, the delivery so powerful that the crowd is stunned to silence. I Wanna Go Home starts with some problems with Mark’s programming, which Tim likens to being on a small boat in the fog and sounding like a huge boat is about to hit you. It’s beefier on record and works well on that level, allowing the whole band to show off their range. The best two tracks of the day are saved for last though. Waterfall, the next single, is the highlight. Again, the power in the delivery is captivating in a way James at their very best have no peers at. The set finishes with Upside, once Saul has had a minor altercation over the key (don’t ask me who was right, I wouldn’t have the clue).
And then they’re gone, to a rather embarrassing interview with Channel M, and a signing session.
Full speed ahead for the tour. It’s going to be a good one.