As Far As I Can See / Monkey God / Wave Hello / Bless Them All / Consequences / Man Of A Thousand Faces / Old Ways / You Can’t Tell How Much Suffering (On a Face That’s Always Smiling) / Monsters / Bone / Dance Of The Bad Angels / The Point Of Darkness / Shatters / Falling Down / All About Time / Fall In Love With Me / Buried Alive
review by oneofthethree
This could have gone so badly. A late arrival, two amps blowing up at the start of a very long and frustrating soundcheck, a 10pm curfew imposed ridiculously late by the venue and a small stage that made a lot of movement difficult. However, cheered on by a Glasgow crowd that took a little time to win over but by the end were refusing to leave, none of that really mattered at the end of a glorious night.
As in Manchester, the gig started with Tim and the band walking through the crowd and Tim found a table at the side of the venue on which to stand and sing the second half of the song, having “too much fun” to get everyone to the stage by the end of the song. Monkey God and Wave Hello set the scene for what’s to follow – right on the edge, riding by the seat of their pants and with a chemistry between the six on stage that draws everyone in. The material from Love Life is extremely well received and has a slightly harder edge than it does on record, although Bless Them All has a delightfully beautiful opening section that pierces the chatting at the back. Consequences is dark and brooding, with Neil’s bassline driving the song. The band have a great presence on stage, most of them have played in venues bigger than this and there’s no deference to the obvious love that Tim and Saul attract from the crowd due to James. The Regina Spektor cover Man Of A Thousand Faces takes the mood and pace down a little, but sounds beautiful and has the great sight of Neil playing a child’s glockenspiel.
Old Ways is a real highlight – the band, and then the crowd, go absolutely wild over the extended outro. Tim loses himself in dance in the middle of everything and the lights, whilst quite simple, feel like they’re an additional instrument. It’s the moment that shuts a lot of the chattering up. You can’t tell how many of the crowd know How Much Suffering is a James song, but it doesn’t matter. Between Old Ways and Monsters, it fits perfectly. Monsters is wild – I’m not sure quite what the City Life reviewer of the Manchester gig didn’t like about the shouted ending, but it works wonderfully as the song feels deranged and dark. It’s preceded by the comedy moment of the evening. Lee’s amp blows and Tim jokes about the tour being a budget tour, at which point Mr A Bunting hands over his wallet as a contribution and a conversation ensues about birthmarks on bottoms and armadillos as Lee is linked up to a small emergency amp.
Bone sees Dan on melodica with Tim holding the mic next to it as it drifts over the instrumental section of the song – it sounds jaw-droppingly beautiful and haunting, as does Dance Of The Bad Angels, which demonstrates that this band live isn’t just about raw power.
What happens next is quite astonishing. The Point Of Darkness is beautiful, but Tim encourages a couple of people from the VIP soundcheck at the front to sing with him and most of the venue ends up singing “light shines, across this world” for a couple of minutes. It’s unexpected and Tim looks genuinely taken aback Shatters takes off and soars to a climax.
Falling Down is only a James song in title, the music is completely different, it stops and starts in different places and is wild. Dan ends up standing on his stool to play the end section, whilst Saul throws violin into the mix. It’s followed by All About Time, which is making its play for the radio song from the album, with its fun, rampant chorus. By the end Tim’s dancing and half the crowd are dancing with him.
After all that, it’s an optimist that would expect the venue to be quiet for Tim to play Fall In Love, but they give it a go, and between the shushs and the shut-ups, it still carries that fragile poignancy that it has always had. Buried Alive, like so much of the new material, connects with the crowd, and the chaos on the stage transfers to a heaving crowd. As they leave, the crowd sing “we’re not going anywhere” demanding more, but the draconian 10pm curfew kicks in and that’s the end.
Truly special. Again. There’s a buzz, an infectious energy, musical connections in this band that’s making these gigs unmissable.