Washington Post review
At this point, it only qualifies as news when bands of yesteryear don’t reunite. (Way to keep it real, Talking Heads and the Smiths.) James — that’s the band’s name, after bassist Jim Glennie — clawed its way to stardom in England over the course of a 20-year career but had just one U.S. hit, the mid-’90s dorm-room anthem “Laid.” Still, that’s one more hit than plenty of other bands that have recently regrouped, and the sold-out 9:30 club Thursday night was proof that there’s actual demand for this particular return. What made the two-hour performance so satisfying was that the highlights were equally split between old fan favorites and selections from the band’s excellent new album, “Hey Ma.” This wasn’t some simple exercise in nostalgia: James proved itself to be plenty relevant more than two decades after its first album.
The biggest cheers from the enthusiastic crowd came for wistful chestnuts such as “Sit Down” and “Come Home” and, of course, the still-frisky “Laid,” which featured singer Tim Booth at his yodeling finest. But the most moving numbers were the soaring anthems from “Hey Ma,” including the antiwar title track, which made up for any lyrical heavy-handedness with a forceful vocal hook delivered over appropriately rumbling drums.The new songs took full advantage of the seven-piece lineup onstage, particularly Andy Diagram, whose trumpet blasts provided a nice counter to Larry Gott’s shimmering guitar lines. The climaxes of “Waterfall” and “Bubbles” made some of the older songs seem almost quaint by comparison — and when Booth bellowed, “I’m alive!” it served as an appropriate statement on the band’s return.