I Wanna Go Home / Heavens / Waltzing Along / Sometimes / Tomorrow / PS / Johnny Yen / Lose Control / Sit Down / Medieval / Ring The Bells / Laid / Sound / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)
It’s 9.45 by the time James take the stage, following issues with previous bands overrunning and technical issues. They start off, surprisingly, with I Wanna Go Home, Tim telling the crowd that they’re going to start “mellowly”. It’s a brave choice to open a festival set, especially one that’s had a varied and relatively unknown line-up all day where James are by far the biggest attraction of the night. There’s some issues with the sound already. Tim’s microphone stops working at one point for a few seconds, which repeats a few times during the set. The songs builds slowly and has the crowd clapping along. Heavens hasn’t been played in the UK for a while and follows on. Whilst not a single, it could well have been and the crowd love it. Waltzing Along gets a great reception too, it’s singalong James – ideal for the festival crowd and a safe choice which allows risks to be taken with the set elsewhere.
Sometimes again has issues with Tim’s microphone cutting out, and thrown into the set early, it’s shorn of the singalong ending. To be honest, last week’s incredible scenes in Lisbon where Tim walked on the shoulders of the crowd during the final singalong was never going to be repeated here, so playing it early was a sensible move, and stripped back to five minutes it sounded fantastic. Tomorrow sounds as powerful as ever and really warms the crowd up. P.S is thrown in as a curveball, but sounds beautiful drifting across the field, with venom dripping from Tim’s vocals and Andy’s trumpet adding shades to Larry’s slide guitar.
Johnny Yen gets a rapturous response and features a new middle section where Tim references Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. Lose Control starts with Andy’s jagged trumpet solo filling the arena before Larry’s acoustic guitar kicks in. It’s a risky move but goes down really well, as does a stripped-back acoustic Sit Down which has the crowd singing along.
They’re forced to drop Space (and later Come Home) from the set because of the draconian curfew restriction of 11pm in the middle of a racecourse. Before launching into Medieval, Tim makes a confession that his first ever gig as a 13 year old was Hawkwind and then asks Andy who gives the same answer, and then we get the first ever known spoken word on stage by Dave, who gives the same answer. Medieval is the highlight of the set, the marching drumbeat, flourishes of trumpet and a chorus that the crowd can sing along despite probably not knowing the song.
The set ends with a quartet of hits, Ring The Bells has a false start, but gets the crowd dancing around. There’s more discussion about how long they have left before jumping into Laid and then a curtailed eight-minute version of Sound, where Tim mentions calling upon his mother’s spirit, before a rousing close of Getting Away With It (All Messed Up). Tim loses sound in his mic on two of the tracks and is almost blinded by the lights at one stage as well, but despite the technical hitches and a set-up probably on the budget side for James, they pull through. There’s no coming out into the crowd, there’s little banter towards the end of the set so as to not lose time and the imposed curfew doesn’t allow for the length of set that justifies the ticket price. It’s still a great set regardless, a mix of the hits and more obscure material, some slower moments where they take the crowd on and demand their concentration.