Dust Motes / PS / Tell Her I Said So / It’s Hot / Ring The Bells / Jam J / Bubbles / Out To Get You / Don’t Wait That Long / Porcupine / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Tomorrow / Say Something / What’s The World / Sound / Sit Down / Stutter / Come Home / Sometimes / Laid
Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom is just that, a huge renovated ballroom with a sprung wood dance floor. As we walk past the venue at 6pm in search of dinner, trying to avoid the many street people, we can hear James running through their real soundcheck. James start their night at 9:30pm in a very mellow mood with Dust Motes and PS. Interestingly they gradually energize the crowd starting with the audience choir in Tell Her I Said So coupled with Saul’s drums and hitting a peak a few songs later with Jim’s solo feature piece Jam J, a real gem. For me, the highlight of the night is the bluesy wailer, Don’t Wait That Long, which James have done a handful of times since their reformation. In this one, Saul’s beautiful violin work perfectly complements Larry’s uncharacteristic (for him) Brit blues rocker guitar work. Next up it’s nice to hear Porcupine from Night Before; such a shame it’s not joined by Shine or Doctor Hellier. GAWI then takes the crowd away as Tim moves onto the barrier to sing a duet with one of the boys in the crowd, going off key as he tries to keep his balance. Blasting through Tomorrow, James push things up a notch as Tim circles the ballroom floor, dancing on tables, while singing Say Something. Then out of nowhere they do What’s The World, which is foreign to most of the audience; truly a one off. The night has its light moments too. After finishing Sound with a new adlib section, Tim starts to introduce a little known song as the set closer, when Saul mentions his setlist shows Sit Down still to be done. Speaking of which, it’s great that James have gone out of their way in this tour to change up how they do Sit Down each time, deciding tonight to do a real rocking version. The lid then gets blown off withe brilliant set closer Stutter; the three drummer (Dave, Mark & Saul) ending section is just so powerful.
After a 4 or 5 minute pause, James return to the stage for a greatest hits encore of (the rarely done on this tour) Come Home, which sounds very fresh tonight; an electric Sometimes, with an error filled intro and the standard audience choir close; then capping things off with Laid and ignoring the audience’s cries for more.
Speaking of which, the crowd tonight is very notable for being by far the most boorish and rudest bunch I’ve come across on this tour. Not only talking loudly over most songs, many of the boys seem to go out their way to grope, knock into and stomp on people. Worse yet, this may be because an unusually large minority are in a drug rather than a musically induced trance tonight; ecstasy and meth look to be the chemicals of choice but a number of reefers were also lit in the smoke-free venue. Overall quite a negative atmosphere. Strangely, Tim really seems to feed off of the high audience members; perhaps, here’s a mirror with your name on. Overall, quite a night of contrasts, ranging from a varied and largely unpredictable main set to a cookie cutter encore. Well that’s James!