SetlistDream Thrum / Oh My Heart / Ring The Bells / Waterfall / She's A Star / Hey Ma / Bubbles / Seven / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / I Wanna Go Home / Out To Get You / Upside / Whiteboy / Born Of Frustration / Sit Down / Sound / Lullaby / Sometimes / Laid
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Onto the House of Blues in San Diego. The venue is surprisingly compact and intimate for what is in effect part of a chain of venues. The walls are adorned and practically covered in all sorts of strange artforms, but it’s a setting that works. The venue’s sound set-up is superb, it’s extremely crisp and vibrant and ideal for a band with the amount going on musically that James have.
The start of the set is a little odd. Andy walks on and performs a solo piece which Tim refers to as a dare when the rest of the band join him a few minutes later. Dream Thrum opens the set and is well received. As in LA, the live version crackles and sparkles in a way the studio version never did and it’s great to see that despite having a great set of new material that James aren’t afraid to delve into their past and resurrect a song like this.
Oh My Heart is one of the band’s favourite new songs and live, it sounds like a hell of a lot of fun, despite the subject matter of the song. The crowd appear to be very responsive to the new songs, a little more lively than the previous two nights. Ring The Bells benefits from the sound in the hall, building and building to a stunning climax. Waterfall sits well next to it in the set despite not being too dissimilar in the way it builds and then explodes into an extended instrumental outro.
She’s A Star feels a little out of place in the set. It’s a pretty straight rendition of a crowd favourite and whilst there’s nothing wrong with the performance, it would have been nice to have heard something like Play Dead, PS, Five-O or Honest Joe in its place (which have all been played earlier in the tour and knowing my luck will appear in Anaheim when I’m sat on a plane home).
Hey Ma is introduced as being about Blair and Bush’s mistakes in Iraq which generates a cheer from the crowd. The delivery of the song gets fiercer with every play and it never ceases to amuse me when Larry almost winds the song up with his hand before the last chorus. Bubbles is again a highlight of the set. Lee hit the nail on the head in the Itunes commentary when he calls it a smorgasbord of what James are about. The song has everything in six minutes.
Seven and Getting Away With It slow the momentum down a little, before another astonishing version of I Wanna Go Home. In this and Out To Get You, which follows, the improvisational elements of James live show come to the fore. The casual James fan would stand agog at the quality of the musicianship, the multi-show fans marvel at the way the songs sound different night to night.
Tim halts Upside before the last chorus to get silence in the venue. It takes a while as some people seem to take this as their opportunity to make themselves heard, proving that wherever you go in the world there are some people who are just the wrong side of stupid.
Whiteboy is fun all the way through. It might appear a little throwaway, but it’s more joyful and upbeat than a million Kaiser C**ts songs rolled into one. Born Of Frustration starts with Larry and Andy’s guitar and trumpet calls and gets more of the crowd dancing than previously in the evening. Sit Down, with a slowed down first verse, steals the show though again. Sound is surprisingly truncated tonight, a slight disappointment given the heights it was taken to in the previous two shows. It matters not to the crowd though. There’s a lot of people here who have waited a long time to see the band and they’re not let down.
Lullaby starts off the encore and the crowd are much more respectful as the haunting melody fills the hall. The set concludes with the two songs that characterise James most in the US. At the end of Sometimes, the crowd need no encouragement to sing the refrain back to the band before Larry and Dave signal the start of Laid. There’s none of the pandemonium of a stage invasion as in LA, but noone’s complaining.
That’s the end of my US trip on this tour. I’m disappointed to be leaving now rather than finishing off in Anaheim, but it’s been a great experience and one I hope to repeat next Spring. Thanks to the guys as ever, Juliet, Mark, Julie, Cory, Mel, Lori, Andy, Daisies, Lila and everyone else I met – it was a blast.