Sit Down / Ring The Bells / Seven / Whiteboy / Born Of Frustration / PS / Tell Her I Said So / It’s Hot / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / She’s A Star / Jam J / I Wanna Go Home / Dust Motes / Stutter / Crazy / Say Something / Sound / Out To Get You / Sometimes / Laid
Campo Pequeno is a bull-ring – it’s a visually stunning building both from the outside and once you’re inside, it’s almost ideal for a concert. High-sided seating area, flat round floor space so noone is too far away from the stage. The sound is also stunning for a venue that holds many thousand people. Couple that with a excited fervent Portuguese crowd witnessing their first full James gig in the capital since the reformation and you have the stage set for a brilliant evening.
The gig starts, without a support band, with Andy playing a trumpet call out in the seats at the top of the building. Larry walks on stage and starts to play the opening chords to Sit Down, whilst Tim appears in the seats at the back and sings walking down the steps, being greeted with adulation by the surprised crowd. Not that James would need much to have this crowd eating out of the palms of their hands, it wins them over – everyone appears to be singing along.
The rest of the band join the stage for Ring The Bells, which starts the centre of the crowd dancing and they don’t stop until the last bars of Laid. Seven sees Tim venture down to the barrier, whilst Whiteboy is a bit messy in places, but that adds to the song rather than taking anything away from it. Tim takes the opportunity before Born of Frustration to welcome vegetarians to the bullring, hoping that the night will be more about love than blood and that it will cleanse bad events that have happened there before. The song itself is wild, the crowd with various degrees of success hollering along with Tim. P.S calms the mood slightly and is highlighted with Larry’s slide and Saul’s violin.
Saul addresses the crowd in Portuguese before Tim requests that the crowd respect the new songs they’re about to play which may be unfamiliar because of the lack of promotion from the Portuguese record company. He needn’t have worried – the crowd that know them sing along, the rest listen and watch. Tell Her I Said So translates well to the live environment and Tim goes back down to the barrier to try and engage the crowd in the “here’s to long life” ending. It’s Hot comes alive compared to the album version.
Getting Away With It and She’s A Star come next and Tim explains to the crowd that they want to come back to the cities in Portugal more and play their own gigs rather than festivals; the crowd cheer as one. The set tonight is aimed at satisfying those that haven’t seen James for a long time and haven’t heard the hits for awhile, whilst throwing in an odd curveball and the new material.
Jam J sees the venue lit up in strobe lighting as the song builds to its climax with Jim’s bass directing the song and Larry hammering away on his guitar. It goes from the mad frenetic to the slower opening bars of I Wanna Go Home, before that too explodes into life. Dust Motes is the one disappointment of the night – not sure why, but it doesn’t sound quite right, Tim’s vocals appear to be drowned out by Larry’s guitar. It’s a blip though as Stutter is as wild as ever, leaving many of the crowd simply staring at the triple-drum assault going on on stage – it ends with Saul using Larry’s guitar as a drum. Crazy sounds for all the world like the hit single that never was, before the set closes with Say Something, with Tim again coming down to the crowd, mounting the barrier to connect with the crowd who hold him up.
Sound has new life breathed into it. Whenever it feels like it might be getting a bit old and tired, the band find something new to add into it. Andy ends the main section of the song up in the seats again, before Larry brings the song back in, although it’s almost unrecognisible as Sound; Tim ends up on the floor of the stage. The band leave to an amazing reception, looking round the venue, as I had all night, seeing such a reaction almost brings a tear to the eye. As with the Greek gigs last summer, the crowd in Portugal add something special to the James experience that is sometimes missing from the UK gigs.
As Laid was the album that really made James’ name in Portugal, it’s fitting that the encore features three songs from that album. The end of Sometimes sees the whole crowd singing along, whilst most of the front row make their way over the barriers onto the stage. The flood of people continue during the opening bars of Laid, which is as wild as ever. Noone wants to leave when the show finishes and it’s not hard to understand why. There’s something special about watching James play in Portugal – I’d recommend it to anyone.