Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Ring The Bells / Sit Down / Hey Ma / Stutter / Out To Get You / Not So Strong / Sound / Sometimes / Laid
James take to the stage at 4.40 with the backdrop bedecked in some cheap looking inflatable flowers. They start off with Getting Away With It, and the opening bars see the crowd down the front raise their hands and start to clap along, it’s a good indication that James will get the respect they deserve from this festival crowd, which contains a reassuring large number of James shirts in its midst. I have the misfortune to be stood behind a guy who knows none of the words, but sings loudly, so I move away. The sound is excellent for a festival and the band are clearly up for it, Tim prowling the stage, catching the attention of various band members as he does.
Ring The Bells is now a festival staple. It lifts the mood with its upbeat, fast pace and has Tim starting to dance manically. The strobe lights don’t have quite the desired effect in the bright sunshine, but it causes one James virgin stood next to me to ask if the strobe lights set off Tim’s epilepsy. She gets let off as it’s her birthday.
Sit Down is messy at the start, but majestic. Tim comes down to the barrier and interacts with the crowd in a way none of the other performers do today. Whilst Guy Garvey later has them eating out his hand with his charm, wit and uniquely Mancunian manner, Tim goes for the more personal contact. The song itself is ideal for these huge communal singalongs, but doesn’t lose the personal, sad tinge to the lyrics.
Hey Ma again sees hands raised as the song kicks off. It doesn’t feel out of place in the set and people sing along. Tim dedicates the song to Blair and Bush’s fuck ups in Iran, before correcting himself.
The highlight of the set is Stutter. Twenty seven years old and as fresh and vibrant as anything seen on the main stage all weekend, and probably as wild too. The triple drum approach with Saul ending up bashing his drumsticks on Larry’s guitar makes for a huge wall of noise. Again, it’s a shame that it’s not dark to get the full on lights effect.
Out To Get You calms the mood down and results in a sea of arms waving and people singing along. The song’s delivery means it doesn’t lose any of the poignancy. Grown men hug and link arms, you know the kind of thing this song brings out in people.
Not So Strong is introduced as a song about boxing. Whilst not as immediate as some of the hits in the set, the chorus has a singalong quality to it that some of the crowd catch onto towards the end. It really should have sat on Hey Ma, somewhere between Semaphore and Upside.
Sound gets truncated, and I’m having issues with this song in the set at the moment. 12 or 13 minutes long versions take down the momentum, yet the short version makes you feel short-changed. Something like Tomorrow would have fitted better to bring the crowd back up for the climax of Sometimes. There’s no singalong, there’s no attempt to get the crowd to it, which would have been interesting. Laid is a perfect set closer. It’s sounding wilder than ever, the crowd go mental and all it’s missing is the mad scramble over the barrier to get on stage, forbidden by the V security and the killjoys of health and safety.
A good solid festival set, one of their better V performances in my memory. It’s never easy to play in bright sunshine at 5 in the afternoon to a crowd that’s not your own. James pull it off, the reception they get at the end tells the story.