Born Of Frustration / Waltzing Along / Oh My Heart / Boom Boom / Ring The Bells / Hey Ma / Bubbles / Come Home / Of Monsters And Heroes And Men / I Wanna Go Home / Say Something / Whiteboy / Waterfall / She’s A Star / Sound / Tomorrow / Johnny Yen / Upside / Sometimes / Laid
After a well-deserved day off, it’s onto Newcastle for the next leg of the tour. No Peter Kay tonight but that doesn’t dampen the crowd’s spirits as the band come on. The atmosphere is electric, there’s a real buzz about the crowd, more so than any of the dates so far and it’s maintained throughout the whole show, which is probably, in all, the best so far. We are even treated to a second encore as the roadies are told to stop unplugging and the house lights aren’t raised.
The first half of the set is a bit subdued on stage and it’s Tim that drives it along with a performance as fierce as anything I’ve seen since the reunion and for a very long time before that. Saul gets dragged along and is more active than on previous nights and by the end, the band and the crowd are absolutely rocking.
Born Of Frustration and Waltzing Along are a great double whammy opener and take the temperature inside the venue up considerably. The crowd sing back every word, even though Tim did reserve the right to get his own lyrics wrong at times. The new material, starting with Oh My Heart and Boom Boom, is received better tonight than anywhere else on the tour, far more respectful. They sound fantastic too, not at all out of place sandwiched between the first two tracks and a truly awesome Ring The Bells, which sounds looser and freer than on previous nights on the tour.
The “happy protest song” Hey Ma sees arms raised, clapping along in time and a fair amount of singing along. Bubbles makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand up, such is the emotion and power in the song as it builds through the first half before the explosion and the cacophany of trumpet and guitar that propels it to its end. Tim is singing and dancing like a man possessed at this point and encouraging Saul and Andy.
Come Home is met with deafening cheers and still has the vitality and freshness the version played on this tour has brought back to it.
There’s a technical problem before Of Monsters And Heroes And Men, which Tim claims responsibility for. To lighten the mood, Tim tells the crowd Jim is going to tell a joke. It’s an awful one. Along the lines of “Why do divers always dive backwards? Because if they dived forwards they’d hit the boat”. Still, Monsters is stunning, and the crowd stop and listen rather than talking through it as had been the case in Liverpool.
I Wanna Go Home is where the gig really turns. It still feels odd the crowd clapping along at the start given the subject matter, but the song is the one off Hey Ma that is utterly transformed in the live environment. Saul moves to the back to play a second set of drums and there’s a sign between Larry and Saul which is the first genuine interaction of the evening across the stage. It’s the turning point of the gig, the rest is James at their very very best.
Taking the lead, Tim ignores the traditional leap onto the barrier to exit stage left and climb onto one of the venue bars and sing the song and dance from there. The crowd love it and it brings a new edge to a song that has sounded a little flat at recent shows.
Whiteboy is a riot, even Tim joins in with the swinging lights, although I’m not sure they’re supposed to be swung as violently as he did. Waterfall is sounding more and more like an absolute James classic that will be hard to shift from the setlist. Andy’s trumpet over the outro is truly beautiful.
The crowd go wild for the closing trio of She’s A Star, Sound and Tomorrow. Sound is phenomenal, the improvisation in the end section is again unique and is accompanied by Tim’s frenzied dancing, clearly free of the back problems that hindered him earlier in the tour. Tomorrow reduces the crowd to a hot, heaving mass.
Johnny Yen opens the encore, the middle section has Tim “on the outside, looking in, searching for a connection” before name-checking Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty as the latest in a line that included Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. It’s very clearly not the work of a band on auto-pilot, but a band that’s connecting on stage and driving each other on. Suddenly, they’re looking round at each other, smiling. It’s great to see.
Upside, once it gets going, does take the tempo down slightly, but the crowd love it, and the end section has them dancing and moshing as if it’s an old favourite.
Sometimes is an absolute revelation. Every word is sung back with a ferocity and passion that seems to stun the band, Tim and Saul share a moment half way through when Tim leans on Saul’s shoulder and there’s no need to try and encourage the crowd to sing the ending back. It’s loud and the band are visibly taken aback. Larry ditches his guitar and dances. Tim jumps up and down and dances. The band try to sneak off stage, but the crowd are having none of it, the ovation goes on for several minutes and forces the band back for a fast and very frantic Laid, which satisfies those in the crowd who’ve been shouting for it from the start.
Best gig of the tour so far, took a while to get going and was held together early on by Tim, but the second half was simply mind-blowingly fantastic. The crowd were respectful of the new material, yet went crazy at every opportunity and did their city proud.
by Helen Smithson, News Guardian.co.uk
CLASSIC indie rockers James showed Newcastle their soul during an energetic performance at a sold-out Carling Academy on Monday night.Watching James perform live is a completely different experience to listening to them on a stereo.
The energy and enthusiasm from the band is infectious, especially charismatic frontman Tim Booth, and even after performing together for so many years and with countless albums under their belts, they seemed genuinely humbled by their reception at Newcastle.
Old favourites Born Of Frustration and Waltzing Along provided a strong opening to a gig which just kept getting more and more spectacular.
Booth thrilled the crowd during Say Something when he disappeared from the stage, re-appearing moments later on the Bar on the left hand side of the Academy which he used as a platform to perform most of the song.
He seemed to be enjoying himself so much with his frenetic dancing at one point that he seemed to head-butt his microphone, then sent it flying across the stage with one of his wild arm movements.
This gig wasn’t just a nostalgic trip through the band’s back catalogue, it was also about showcasing their new material from the album Hey Ma which was released earlier this month.
The songs sounded fresh and modern whilst still staying true to the band’s roots, and tracks such as Whiteboy and protest song Hey Ma were greeted with excitement by the crowd.
There was always a feeling that this gig was building up to something special, and that is exactly what happened as the band started to wind down their final song Sometimes.
As the singing and accompanying music got quieter, the crowd raised their arms in the air and sang the
lyrics “sometimes, when I look in your eyes, I see your soul” over and over again.
Eventually the band stopped playing completely, stood back and seemed to watch in amazement as the crowd carried on singing.
Booth and his fellow members looked genuinely touched and emotional by the reception.
Technicians dismantling the stage after what was supposed to be the final song suddenly started hurriedly putting the equipment back together as the band burst back onto the stage for an unplanned second encore to thank their adoring crowd.
The excitement levels shot through the roof as they launched into the awesome Laid, ending a phenomenal gig on an amazing high.
It felt like James loved their audience as much as their audience loved them during this gig, and after the band’s humble reaction at the end of Sometimes, it felt like the crowd had actually seen their soul.