Sit Down / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Seven / Tomorrow / Crazy / She’s A Star / Stutter / Dust Motes / Tell Her I Said So / Born Of Frustration / Jam J / I Wanna Go Home / Out To Get You / Ten Below / Say Something / Ring The Bells / Sound / Come Home / Sometimes / Laid
After the grandeur of the Campo Pequeno in Lisbon, the prospect of a pavilion in the Palacio do Cristal is a very tempting one – yet the expected glamour and history behind the name is in reality a domed arena normally used for sport which appears devoid of any heating – Tim jokingly holds up a fan heater and tells the crowd this is all they have to keep warm. During the show this doesn’t prove a problem as the venue is absolutely rammed – even down the sides where we choose to stand there is no room for any dancing that doesn’t involve solely up and down movement.
Coming on nearly half an hour late, Andy’s trumpet call and then Larry’s acoustic guitar signal Tim’s entrance, accompanying Andy in the seats above the main standing arena. Immediately head turn, arms are raised and several thousand Portuguese and a few visitors from overseas are joined in one singing along. Not being thrown out at the end of the set, the song has gained a new lease of life and, of course, it wins the crowd over from the start. Back on stage with the rest of the band, Getting Away With It seals the deal. Despite the acoustics of the venue being pretty damn awful and the bass being turned up a little too much, James battle their way through – not that the crowd that is going wild care about the sound that much. Seven sees Tim make his first venture down to the front of the crowd.
Tomorrow starts off with the intro of Ring The Bells being played and then stops, this happens again later on as well as there’s good natured banter on stage about the setlist. Crazy keeps the pace going in the set even though it’s less familiar to the crowd whilst She’s A Star, preceded by Saul talking to the crowd in Portuguese translating Tim’s words for him, has Tim off the stage at the left hand side.
Tim starts to introduce Dust Motes, before Larry corrects him that one of the first songs they ever wrote is next. Whilst the sound in the venue is awful, it works for the lighting as the grey roof seems to reflect light around the dome as Stutter again demonstrates James’ ability to take an old song and reinvent it in a way that none of their contemporaries would even consider.
Dust Motes doesn’t suffer as badly last night from sound issues, but there’s still a feeling that Tim’s vocals aren’t loud enough compared to the guitar. Whilst not so familiar to the crowd there’s still plenty of arms raised and the mad man who’s spent most of the gig on his poor friend’s shoulders clearly is still having a great time. Tell Her I Said So, with an extended outro, works well in the set, despite not much success again in getting someone in the front row to sing along the “here’s to long life line”.
Born Of Frustration, as befits one of the songs that broke James in Portugal, gets possibly the most raucous reception of the evening, Tim toying with the audience at the start. Jam J, which ends in Tim telling the crowd that it was dedicated to those who thought James were just about pop songs, has every bit the energy of Stutter, Jim and Larry leading the way and an extended outro lighting up the building with strobes – very powerful.
I Wanna Go Home and Out To Get You bring the mood down slightly, although they both give the band chance to shine and demonstrate they are not just about the raw power that drove the first half of the set. The acoustics don’t hinder them either on these two songs although Ten Below suffers badly, particularly in the end section where the bass drowns out Tim’s singing through the megaphone.
On the home straight and James seal the main set with three of their best known songs – Say Something has Tim singing on the barrier, whilst Ring The Bells demonstrates James flat out rocking. Sound finishes with Andy back on the balcony, almost hanging over into the crowd, whirling his trumpet around. It’s easy to forget sometimes how much he adds to James, but the piercing trumpet and the visuals he often provides are as critical to the James sound as anyone else.
Coming back out, the backing tape to Come Home fails to work, allowing Tim to reprise the Mac / PC debate which went on at a few US shows. Showing that they are not reliant on the backing tapes, the band improvise, Andy playing trumpet through Tim’s mic and Larry turning up the guitar, making the song sound as it did back in 1989 before Flood got his mitts on it.
Sometimes also benefits from a different start due to the tape issues and works equally well. As the crowd singalong, the song is brought back up at the end, bringing it to a more natural end than crashing into Laid. This allows Tim to ask people up on stage to dance on the condition they don’t bring cameras and phones with them and the gig ends with a heaving mass of bodies and arms with the stage full of people dancing.
Whilst not as enjoyable or as polished as the Lisbon performance the night before, the energy of the crowd and the power of the music made the show special for those that had waited nearly a decade for James to do their own show in the city. It’s a pity that the venue didn’t quite work and didn’t have the intimacy of the bullring the previous night.