SetlistIsabella / Born Of Frustration / Ring The Bells / Five-O / Wherever It Takes Us / All The Colours Of You / Johnny Yen / Say Something / Honest Joe / Sit Down / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Sometimes / Sound / Come Home
SupportLightning Seeds, Cruel Hearts Club & Beth Macari
More Information & Reviews
The event, called THIS IS FOR THE NHS, was held in support of the UK National Health Service (NHS) for its work during the Covid-19 pandemic. Local NHS workers were offered free tickets.
James head onto stage and launch into Isabella from All The Colours Of You and it’s clear that, even though this band have played as a nine-piece half a dozen or so times, they’re in one of those phases of the band where they spark off each other. Contained to the stage Tim searches looking for connection, finding them with each member of the band at some point in the evening. Born Of Frustration feels bigger and bolder than before whilst Ring The Bells shows how they’ve been working on the songs and integrating the bigger line-up with Chloe taking a bigger vocal part allowing Andy to add his signature trumpet and experimentation – something that’s noticeable as the evening progresses. It’s one of those subtleties the expanded line-up offers them.
Five-O takes us on wonderful wandering journey, with Saul’s violin taking the song off its beaten track, Tim transfixed by his colleague’s work like many of the audience around us. Wherever It Takes Us is clearly a band favourite and is evolving before our eyes and ears, but it feels like it’s missing something tonight – which may well be the sound that isn’t loud enough down the front and seems to be lacking a bit of body to it as if the festival have done it on the cheap for the main stage (the second was fine).
Honest Joe is a surprise inclusion after a long absence and a real indication of how this new James are, like when they’ve played Stutter in previous gigs, going to deliver some very special nights with this new line-up. Tim alludes to this when he tells us that this is the real James and it makes them fresh and alive and why they’re still going. For a band that says it’s bedding in, they’re still making an awful lot of changes to the setlists.
The crowd is very sterile around us all the way through, even for the big-hitters Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), Sometimes, Sound and Come Home that finish off the evening, standing arms folded, complaining at people dancing (swaying rather than anything remotely moshing if we’re talking details), chatting incessantly and getting offended at others moving around.
It’s the opposite of our experiences of Newcastle crowds from the past, particularly at the Academy which was always a highlight of the tour. Tonight was one of those where, from our vantage point at least, the performance didn’t get the audience it deserved.
Read the full review at EvenTheStars.co.uk