SetlistLose Control / Waltzing Along / Oh My Heart / Ring The Bells / Whiteboy / Hymn From A Village / Gold Mother / Stutter / Tomorrow / I Wanna Go Home / Out To Get You / Top Of The World / Dream Thrum / Upside / Come Home / Sit Down / Sound / She's A Star / Born Of Frustration / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Sometimes / Laid
More Information & Reviews
So, the final night of the tour, in the greatest city in the world, the greatest band in the world. Athlete open proceedings. I’ve held my silence about them so far, but they are DULL. Not bad, they are perfectly competent musicians, but there’s no life, no excitement to the performance. It’s a blessed relief when they finish and we can wait for the main attraction.
It’s a slightly surreal atmosphere tonight. There’s more people in the venue, there appears to be more alcohol consumed as well and there’s the bizarre sight of men and women with plastic hooked noses, dressed in pink jackets and skirts handing out Tangfastics sweets from little pink suitcases. What that means is anyone’s guess. As the lights go down, we get for the final time the screens with the crowd explaining what they would do to make the world a better place.
As the previous night, Tim and Larry appear on the disabled ramp at the back of the auditorium to sing Lose Control. It’s almost like the Pied Piper of Hamelin as they weave their way through the crowd to the stage, followed by a series of mobile phones and cameras held aloft. Waltzing Along opens the full set with Andy on guitar, the crowd go wild, singing along, dancing all the way back to the soundboard in parts. As last night, the sound is superb, the lighting is wonderful and there’s brilliant footage being filmed for the screens at the side of the stage.
Oh My Heart and Ring The Bells really start to notch up the pace of the show, both are played at breakneck speed and have the crowd reduced to a heaving mass down the front. Bells is stunning, Andy moving to the front of the stage to deliver his trumpet call to arms, Saul prowling the stage high on adrenalin and Tim dancing in the way only Tim can. Whiteboy doesn’t slow the set down one bit, arms are raised aloft to mimic the admonishing finger wagging of the song. Even without the swinging lights of the April tour, it’s the real fun moment of the set.
Then we get the first surprise of the night, Hymn From A Village, Didsbury Village, as Tim describes it at the end. It’s wonderful to hear it again and a very welcome surprise. It’s as lob-sided and awkward as it ever was, but doesn’t sound out of place in a James set twenty-five years plus on from its debut. This tour has been about the hits and Hey Ma (and there’s been a surprising number of complaints about the neglect of Hey Ma – although we’ve had 4-6 songs every night – which must bode well going forward), but throwing curveballs like this in is what James are about, have always been about.
Gold Mother next. I’ve said earlier in the tour this seems a little lost without the stage invasion and the associated chaos. Not tonight. Larry adds some backing vocals which work fantastically well. Tim takes the podium at the front and turns to band members in turn hollering “silence”. It’s visually extremely powerful, backed by some great strobe lighting impacts. Tim corrects himself after telling the crowd the song was about contraptions, which ensured much mirth around us.
Stutter is introduced as a song from 1985, which Larry corrects as being earlier. It sounds like a song from another age, like nothing else ever performed in this environment before. Those who had chattered through Hymn and Gold Mother, waiting for the hits at the end, shut up and watch. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve used the word mesmerising on this tour. It’s overused but it’s so appropriate for this. Through the wall of noise, there’s a tunefulness, a passion, a story. Larry again adds some backing vocals adding again to the effect. Wonderful.
Tomorrow is next and the band are joined on stage by a guy performing the song in sign language, before the band take the set down for some quieter mid-set moments. I Wanna Go Home strictly doesn’t do this – the audience clap along at first and then the songs explodes in a flurry of trumpet, guitar and drums as the lights kick in and the stage is enveloped in white and yellow. Truly stunning.
Out To Get You has a similar impact. It starts and then the band take over the song and take the recorded version to new levels. There’s a huddle around Jim and Saul whilst Tim, Dave and Larry form a triangle as the song goes off on a tangent, driven by Saul’s violin.
Another surprise in the set is Top Of The World. The mirrorball comes down from the ceiling as the opening bars are played. Jim’s bass on this song is spine-tinglingly eerie. Tim’s delivery is very straight-faced, but there’s so emotion in the eyes and the delivery as he is projected onto the screens at the side of the stage. It’s followed by a beautiful rendition of Dream Thrum, sparking life into one of the weaker Laid tracks, relying on the craft of the musicians rather than power and with Tim’s vocal sounding as good as it’s ever done.
Upside is introduced as the single that should have been off Hey Ma and it’s the precursor for a set of eight songs to close the set, and the tour, that the likes of Coldplay, Keane, Kaiser Chiefs, Kings Of Leon and basically every other band on the planet should be in envy of. Come Home gets its first outing of the tour and causes delirium and an even bigger moshpit. It’s not the most polished performance, but the song works best that way, hanging loosely around the main riff.
Sit Down, with its gorgeous piano-led opening, just increases the chaos. This is the song’s spiritual home, but tonight it’s kept simple, it’s played loud, the crowd respond and create a sense of communion that feels as if the whole place has come together as one. When Tim sings “those who feel the breath of sadness”, the whole place seems to raise its arms in response. It’s simply stunning now, it’s not contrived or forced as the song was at risk of becoming in the past. It’s a song to be proud of. If it’s the only James song people know, then that’s fine.
Sound seems again to be even longer than before. Twisting, turning, spitting, stopping, starting, strobes piercing the air. Andy stands on the raised platform at the back and is projected onto the screens as he squeezes every last note out of it. The crowd response at the end tells the band everything they need to know about what they thought of the show.
Coming back on for the encore, the band seem unsure as to what to start. Following a quick chat, Saul grabs his guitar and violin bow and starts up She’s A Star. The crowd go wild. Born Of Frustration sees Tim jump down on to the barrier, finding a safe arm to hold him up as he crashes through the song. Andy again takes centre stage as the lights focus on him. Still unsure what to play next, they decide on Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), which Tim describes as the band’s theme tune.
There’s no way they are going to be allowed to leave at this point. Sometimes is next, introduced as being written at the Boom Boom rooms in Manchester. As with all nights of the tour, the crowd join in a singalong of the refrain at the end, this time unprompted. It’s quite a sight to see Tim dancing to 6,000 people singing one line of a song without any musical accompaniment. The band bring the song back in for the climax. And then it’s into Laid, the familiar ending on this set. The band are joined on stage by Santas, friends and family and people pulled from the crowd. The song extends as if noone wants it to finish, but like all good things it has to come to an end.
This has been the best tour I’ve seen James on. They haven’t done a show that has made me make the bold proclamation that it’s my favourite ever, but each and every one has been at a consistently high standard and has given something new each show. The only slight downer was the venue at Leeds and the issues in getting there and finding a decent viewpoint. The set has been varied, with Hey Ma well represented, a fair splattering of the better known hits and the resurrection of some older less familiar tunes. The band have looked as together and coherent as they ever have done. It now feels like the end of a period though. There’s no shows set up for next year, but there’s the promise of new material, still talk of a US tour, and possibly plans for a DVD of the Manchester shows. Porcupine, although not played tonight, has shown the creative juices are still there, and we got a sneak view of Look Away at Camden and there’s still 50-60 seeds of songs they’ve written so far.
A massive thanks to the band for another wonderful two weeks, Zeb for sorting lots of stuff out for us, Nick, the camera guys and old friends and new on the road, way too many to mention, except one special thanks for Mike (takemeanywhere), driver extraordinaire, service station guru and all round top bloke. LYM.
SetlistLose Control / She's A Star / Oh My Heart / Ring The Bells / Bubbles / I Know What I'm Here For / Gold Mother / Stutter / Born Of Frustration / Porcupine / I Wanna Go Home / Of Monsters And Heroes And Men / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Upside / Tomorrow / Sit Down / Sound / Say Something / Sometimes / Laid / Out To Get You
More Information & Reviews
So, two big gigs in the hometown to finish off the tour. I was apprehensive when it was announced the gigs would be at G-Mex (I’m sure TMA would pull me if I said “to give it it’s proper name”) as previous experiences there hadn’t been positive. I didn’t make it to the 1990 show because of snow, which Tim very kindly reminded me of later and the 1993 show resulted in a number of eye and leg injuries in the moshpit which seemed to envelop half the venue (how you can mosh to PS is anyone’s guess) and the gigs there since have been spoilt by poor sound, stupidly located toilets, sub-standard burgers and disinterested punters.
Lose Control opens again after some hilarious new snippets of the “what would you do to make the world a better place?” question. I won’t spoil them but it’s clear that christmas spirits have been downed by a few people before agreeing to be filmed. Tim and Larry start the song on the raised disabled area towards the back of the arena and then make their way down the right hand side of the crowd. Just as well, they didn’t go down the left, they’d have been stuck in the queue for the bogs until half way through the set. They make the stage for Tim to finish the song as the rest of the band crank up the opening to She’s A Star, which sees Manchester raise its arms in communion. The sound is surprisingly good for the venue and the lighting steps up a notch again as the curved roof of the former Central Station forms a perfect backdrop. The song has mysterious lost it’s “it’s a long road, it’s a good section” at the end which makes it seem as if it finishes too soon, but never mind, it’s still a great opener for what’s to come.
Tim comes out onto the lip and hollers “hello” at the crowd who respond. Unimpressed by the volume, Tim then yells it and gets a much louder response. Oh My Heart again doesn’t feel out of place sandwiched between two of the better known hits. There should be an act of Parliament to make neglect of Hey Ma a criminal offence, but the good people of Manchester seem to love it so there’s hope yet.
Ring The Bells comes back to the front end of the set and confirms its position as possibly the best song on the tour. They’ve totalled nailed it this time round, it never sounds quite the same two nights running, the end section spiralling out as Andy makes full use of the stage, Saul prowls like a man possessed. Stunning stuff.
Bubbles spits and sparkles as it builds through the song, gaining momentum, taking new twists and turns before exploding into a wonderful cacophony of sound and Tim takes centre stage firing out passionately about the birth of his youngest son. I Know What I’m Here For seems like it’s never been out of the set. Live, it was always the Millionaires song, with the possible exception of the magnificent Vervaceous, that worked the best. It’s not the greatest lyric Tim’s ever written and it came out of a pretty dark time for the band, but it’s picked up by the crowd and it’s made into a celebration rather than the farewell that the lyrics point to.
Gold Mother sounds better tonight than it has on the rest of the tour so far. Shorn of the stage invaders, it had lost some of his impact, but in the bigger arenas, the sheer volume of the sound and the lighting make it a celebration. The song does actually sound like musical contractions in parts.
Stutter gets introduced as a very old song for very old people. It doesn’t sound old, it sounds like nothing else anyone is doing at the moment. It just sounds like the most indescribable wall of sound, looks like a wall of light and strobes. People who had been talking around us stop and are transfixed by what’s coming from the stage. It’s come a long way from the Hacienda footage filmed around the corner way back in 1982, yet it’s basically still the same song with the same lyrics.
Born Of Frustration follows and Andy comes to the front of the stage to lead the song with the trumpet. Six thousand people do their best Indian impersonations. The song’s been extended out at the end and sounds better for it. Whilst being a big hit machine in the Seven era, it wasn’t at the cost of the musical experimentation and power that the band had developed over the years and the outro, along with the mesmerising experience that is Sound, are the prime examples of this. Tim goes down onto the barrier and almost gets dragged into the crowd, losing a line or two of the song in the process.
“In case we’re getting too professional”, as Tim announces it, Porcupine is next. You’ve probably read my thoughts on this so far. They’ve not changed. It doesn’t sound at all out of place in the set. It’s a great song. Saul reappears in white with a pair of angel wings attached to his jacket at the back of the stage.
I Wanna Go Home and Of Monsters And Heroes And Men slow the pace of the set down but certainly there is no drop in the quality. Both fill the arena – I Wanna Go Home induces mass clapping at the start and then stares of awe as the band provide us with an aural attack distant from the relative sombreity of the recorded version. Of Monsters And Heroes And Men sees the mirrorball come down and the corners of the arena enveloped in the lights reflecting off it. Rather than chatter, the crowd around us stand and watch and take in the songs.
The opening bars of Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) strike up and there are cheers of familiarity and people start to dance again. The song is a staple set-filler, it’s a great song in the tradition of James singles, but it’s never going to be THE song at a gig that blows everyone away. Still sounds great though.
Upside, I’ve said enough about already, but it feels more heartfelt, Saul’s guitar more like a heart breaking, every night.
Tomorrow sees the band joined by a guy who performs the song in sign language on the raised part of the stage at the back. It’s as powerful and fast as ever, and gets the crowd moshpit going back further than so far in the show.
Tim introduces Sit Down as a song that was written in Ancoats in 20 minutes and they had to stop playing it because they were laughing so much. The whole venue is then joined in a celebration in the venue where the video was filmed eighteen years ago that helped make the song what it has become. A song of union, a song of good over bad, sticking in there and getting through to the other side. It’s not drawn out, elongated, sung back in a way that was threatening to make it overwhelm the rest of the set in the way it was in the past. They just play it relatively straight. It sounds superb. It is superb.
Sound is probably the longest version we’ve heard so far on the tour. As ever, it goes off in new directions, improvised, the lighting is stunning, simple but just adding to the song as it grows and grows, then stops then starts, stops again and then takes one final bow.
They come back and Tim chides the audience for the volume of their encore call. He then announces that they’re going to play a song they wrote at the Boardwalk in Manchester. Excitement ensues for about 10 seconds as this would suggest an older number, Burned, What For or something along those lines. It’s a little disappointing when it turns out to be Say Something (I actually had no idea that the place was still open in 1992). Tim jumps down in the crowd and onto the barrier for the song.
Sometimes kicks in and the now customary crowd singalong is the loudest and one of the most prolonged so far. Laid prompts members of the crowd to be dragged out and up on to stage, Tim having gone down in the pit to select them. It seems to take him an age to come back up which makes it very surreal that you can’t see him singing. As it has been every night of the tour, Laid sounds invigorated and fresh in a way it hadn’t for quite a while.
They go off but are called back for what Saul describes as a new song. It would be a bloody minded thing to do (and would probably have needed another song after it), but we Out To Get You. The second encore song choices have been quieter songs at the two gigs that they’ve been done at. It still sounds beautifully executed, the song reaches a climax with Saul, Jim and Larry in a huddle, Mark down off his keyboard stand. And then it’s finished. Dave wanders out to the front of the podium in front of the others and the band respond to the applause by applauding the audience.
A great gig, certainly the best I’ve seen at the G-Mex. The setlist has a little bit for everyone, from the older songs (although not as many as expected from Tim’s interview with Clint Boon earlier in the day which promised lots of old songs), the newer material and the less familiar songs. Sound and lighting was excellent too.
Off to do it all again.
SetlistLose Control / She's A Star / Waltzing Along / Oh My Heart / I Know What I'm Here For / Whiteboy / Bubbles / Stutter / Tomorrow / Porcupine / I Wanna Go Home / Out To Get You / Dream Thrum / Upside / Ring The Bells / Sit Down / Sound / Born Of Frustration / Sometimes / Laid
More Information & Reviews
As my good friend Mr Nuttall has explained already, Monday was something special. You wonder what James were going to come up with him to match it. There’s always one night that’s better than the other in two night stints at a venue and although Tuesday was an excellent gig, Monday probably just shaded it. Tuesday’s gig though built and built from a slow start. Lose Control saw Tim come through the audience again with Larry on guitar in tow. As on Monday, they then go straight into She’s A Star, which works well as an opener to the full band part of the set. Waltzing Along is thrown back in to follow, and you wonder if tonight is going to be a hits night rather than some of the less familiar choices of the previous night. Andy adds guitar to the song, looking very fetching in his red dress and shades, and fortunately tonight without the bobble hat.
Oh My Heart is the first of the Hey Ma tracks and feels like an old friend at the start of the set. It, like all the others, doesn’t feel out of place amongst more well-known company. There’s still a mosh-pit in the centre, arms waved in the air and people singing along. Quite right too. But there doesn’t feel like there’s that spark there tonight on stage or coming from the crowd at this point which made last night so special. Moving Ring The Bells back in the set doesn’t help at this stage as it has been probably the best of the older songs and Monday’s version was one of the best they’ve ever done.
I Know What I’m Here For does start to bring it back though. Whilst maybe not the strongest song in James’ canon, it’s fun and gets the crowd going, and, that keyboard line isn’t so prominent again. Whiteboy is an absolute blast, lots of finger wagging going on in the crowd, mimicking Tim on stage. Tim tells the crowd the song is from the “stupendously fantastic album Hey Ma” which “only half of you bought so the other half are left out”. The electric drum thing comes back out so it can only mean one thing – Bubbles is back in the set and it sounds absolutely stunning again, brooding, building, exploding, magnificent, James.
Stutter dismisses the hits only tonight theory. Introduced by Tim as a song from 1985 (1982 actually) and the best song they had in those days, it’s huge, awkward, stumbling and mesmerising. The lights and the three drum attack of Mark, Dave and Saul combined with Larry and Jim’s backing vocals have the crowd standing back in awe. It’s still one of the best songs they have. Or anyone else for that matter.
Tomorrow makes its first mid-set appearance of the tour and has the crowd back into moshpit mode. The sound in the Academy is excellent, allowing the power of the music to fill the corners of it, whilst not dampening Tim’s vocals. Not even him making his customary excursion into the crowd and onto the barrier can dull that tonight.
Porcupine is introduced as having been re-written at 4am. There’s a new final verse including the line “you’re a skunk and I’m a porcupine”. Although new, it’s one of those immediate James tracks you find yourself singing along to after about the third time. It bodes well for the next album, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later.
I Wanna Go Home is delayed as Jim’s bass needs tuning. Tim quips that he’s clever because he knows it needs to be in tune for this song. The crowd start clapping along with the song, in stark contrast to the quiet introspective subject of the song. Out To Get You evokes a similar response and the set has started to really kick in and take off by this point after the quiet start. Dream Thrum is a mellower track, but sounds beautiful with simple backing video and blue and purple lighting.
Upside is as drop dead gorgeous and beautiful as ever. The intro does sound like a heart breaking and Tim’s vocals send a chill down the spine. It moves from the pain of separation to the euphoria of love from verse to chorus and back again. Tim holds the last chorus for what seems like an eternity and then the song goes off into the night as Tim dances, Andy hammers the trumpet and the world feels a better place to be.
Ring The Bells has been moved back in the set, replacing Born of Frustration in the trilogy to complete the set. Whoever chose Sound as the first single off Seven needs their head feeling. This was the obvious obvious song to follow Sit Down. It contains everything great about James in just under five minutes. Tonight, in the live arena, it shows off a band at the peak of its powers.
As for Sit Down, there’s nothing more you really want to say about this song. It starts with the gorgeous piano intro, Tim is nearly drowned out by the crowd singing it back. It has its detractors, it’s the one song most casual observers know, it’s been played to death. It’s fucking brilliant. Brixton goes mental. Rightly so.
Sound closes the main set, seemingly longer by the night, twisting and turning, controlled by Dave and Jim with Saul and Larry adding vibrancy and colour, Andy trumpeting over the top and Tim prowling the stage. As they leave, I question whether I’ve seen the band this good over a sustained tour. I think the answer is probably no.
The encore dispatches the traditional slow first song for Born of Frustration and it works beautifully as it keeps the crowd at fever pitch. Tim again comes out to the crowd where there’s a surge towards him as he perches on the barrier, not missing a note. Sometimes starts off slow tonight, the first verse close to acapella, but the rest of the band kick in and it drives along before the communal singalong that has become tradition.
Then it’s into Laid, and I find myself being pulled into the pit to get up on stage. I jump around for three minutes like a lunatic probably making a bit of a tit of myself, but who cares? It’s ridiculously hot up there but you just lose yourself in the music. The sight of three thousand beaming faces as the song closes is pretty special. You don’t really ever get to see it how the band do, but the joy and delight on the faces in the crowd was something I’ll never forget. James take you places no other band can.
SetlistLose Control / She's A Star / Oh My Heart / Ring The Bells / I Know What I'm Here For / Honest Joe / Stutter / Porcupine / I Wanna Go Home / Of Monsters And Heroes And Men / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Upside / Hey Ma / Born Of Frustration / Sit Down / Sound / Out To Get You / Sometimes / Laid / Top Of The World
More Information & Reviews
Review by Sir Mike Nuttall CBE (fuc(c)er)
Once in a lifetime a band comes along and changes your world forever. Other bands will come and go and some will truly move you but your ‘special’ band is already cast in stone, like knowing who your football team is or your political viewpoint. James became that band for me the best part of twenty years ago. Since then, they have sound-tracked my life from the teenage angst, to the happy holidays, through the start of new relationships, in the bitterness of unhappy endings, through the pain of loss and in times of fear. Or, to put it more succinctly, in love, in fear, in hate, in tears. Then they broke my heart when splitting up in 2001 and my world had changed, seemingly for good.
The reformation in early 2007 was like a long-forgotten light going back on and illuminating a beautiful but neglected part of a room. There have been some magical shows in the interim and a joyous new album but everything seemed to be leading to this one night in a rough borough of South London. Not that I know this as the acoustic guitar of Larry Gott crashes through the opening bars of Lose Control. The stage remains in darkness and it quickly becomes clear, as heads turn to the rear that the playing is coming from the top of this venue’s sloping floor. Gott and singer Tim Booth weave their way through the crowd, pausing at times to create a mini-stage and get up close and personal with those least expecting it. She’s a Star follows and the celebratory nature of the evening is set. A triumphant Ring The Bells and the dancey I Know What I’m Here For keep the party in full-flow after we have been treated to Oh My Heart from this year’s Hey Ma album, complete with a falsetto sing-off between Booth and trumpeter Andy Diagram. This is not going to be a greatest hits show though, far from it.
What happens next is what james have always done best. They move left-field and it is another half a dozen songs later before another single is played. That tells about a tenth of the story. Honest Joe is an album track from their mid-nineties experimental album Wah Wah. Industrial guitars and duelling megaphones make this the most pleasurable kind of aural onslaught. Then comes Stutter, a song a quarter of a century old and only previously released on a live album and as a b-side. Lyrically, it deals with loss of control. Sonically, it is earthy and you can feel that it comes from the streets of northern England. The audience are lapping it up almost despite themselves and you start to feel that just maybe the band needs to give them something familiar to grasp onto. Not this band. Porcupine is a brand new song, so new that Booth is reading the lyrics from a printed sheet. The song pulsates and throbs and the future appears safe in their hands. Then comes a four-song Hey Ma onslaught, broken up only by Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), the sole single from 2001’s Pleased To Meet You album. I Wanna Go Home is a crescendo of beauty and the climax, which sees violinist Saul Davies high up on a platform, pristine all in white, is orgasmic. Of Monsters and Heroes and Men slows the pace but certainly doesn’t diminish the beauty and just when you think that your heart is full, Upside tops it to the brim. Mark Hunter’s piano entwined with the guitar of Davies truly is the sound of a heart breaking. The title track of Hey Ma is the one political song of the night and is poignant on the day that yet another British soldier has lost his life in Afghanistan. Bush and Blair, I hope you never sleep peacefully again.
Here come the big guns. Born of Frustration sees Booth venture down onto the barrier, where he is supported by the crowd and despite swaying he never misses a note. A lazy and languid intro to Sit Down follows, Hunter’s piano again to the fore and as the song kicks in, Gott, Davies and Diagram join Booth at the apron of the stage, making quite a spectacular site. The final song of the main set is Sound, a top ten single from late 1991 but a song that the band clearly still love to improvise, never playing it quite the same twice. The extended outro is extraordinary and even the band don’t seem to know when it will end, to the extent that the drummer briefly gives up before joining in again. It is almost a relief when they leave the stage, giving us old-timers a chance to catch our collective breath.
If there is a theme to the night, then it is hats, with various band members wearing a variety of headgear including a bobble hat and a beret. As the opening bars of Out To Get You threaten to reduce grown men to quivering wrecks, the drummer claims the prize for the most ridiculous hat of the evening, a big flashing Christmas monstrosity. The music is the far from monstrous though with the violin again taking centre stage. A swirling Sometimes ends in a five minute sing-along, culminating with Booth declaring that he wants to remember the moment as he dies. We can only hope that he will need a very long memory. Then Laid sends the crowd into a heaving mass of limbs and sees the stage filled with dancers picked out if the crowd. As the band take their bow, the noise in the venue is deafening and an overwhelming victory is assured. Nobody could have complained if this was the finale but the band members clearly don’t want to leave just yet. With yet another strange twist, they choose to end with Top Of The World, an album track from 1990’s breakthrough record Gold Mother. It is one of the most stunningly gorgeous songs in their repertoire and as my eyes well up, the biggest struggle is to stop the tears from flowing.
It is only after the house lights finally come up that I become fully aware of the enormity what I have just experienced. A band formed more then twenty-five years ago has just given a performance so beguiling that for the first time since their reunion, I don’t feel like they could ever break my heart again. Obviously, I hope that there are many more James live experiences in the future and the appearance of a new song bodes well. But if for whatever reason I have seen them for the final time then I am at peace, safe in the knowledge that I was there when the class of 1982 graduated to become simply different class. To Tim, Jim, Larry, Saul, Mark, Dave and Andy, sincerely, thank you.
SetlistLose Control / Waltzing Along / Oh My Heart / Ring The Bells / Whiteboy / I Know What I'm Here For / Gold Mother / Stutter / Porcupine / I Wanna Go Home / Out To Get You / Lullaby / Upside / Hey Ma / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Born Of Frustration / Sit Down / Sound / Say Something / Sometimes / Laid
More Information & Reviews
So onto Birmingham after a terrible drive through the rain from Scotland, a pizza / samosa supper at 3am and a stop at the wonderful Tebay services on the M6 (the only independent services in the UK – where else would you spend £30 on pate, cassoulet and sauces on a motorway). The venue is located pretty centrally in Birmingham and looks like one of the traditional arena sheds, but actually isn’t too bad once you get inside. The standing area looks pretty sold out and apart from a few blocks covered with curtains, the seating area looks pretty full as well. Athlete start off proceedings which allowed me to have a few beers and a catch up with some friends.
As the lights go down, Larry appears sat at the back of the standing area on one of the stacks in the sounddesk area and Tim appears on the rail of the seating area above him. As at other nights they kick through a gorgeous acoustic version of Lose Control whilst weaving their way through the crowd. The start of the set follows the same pattern as yesterday through to Gold Mother, yet, as James always do, the songs sound different as improvisation in sections take songs off in different directions accompanied by lighting that, yet again, is nothing short of spectacular. If anything, Waltzing Along doesn’t quite make the right set opener (excluding Lose Control) as it doesn’t have quite the same umph (if that’s a word) factor as some of the other hits.
Porcupine is introduced as a new song, but now doesn’t feel like one. Every night it sounds bigger and bigger. Wonderful. Saul’s violin in the outro, with him after costume change number one and stood on the raised section at the back in a white suit, is simply stunning.
Say Something sees a special guest, Phil from The Twang, brought on stage to sing backing vocals. Tim stays out of the crowd tonight and the backing vocals add an interesting new twist to the song. We were a bit disappointed that we didn’t get Hymn From A Village, which The Twang had professed their love for on last year’s tour.
The middle section might not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a stunning demonstration of the breadth and depth of James as musicians. I Wanna Go Home going into Of Monsters And Heroes And Men is as perfect a combination as you could find to slow the set down without losing the power and sheer quality of the show. Tim holds the high note in I Wanna Go Home for about half a minute as the music crashes back in around him. Dream Thrum, with a simple purple wave background, isn’t half bad either, piercing the air throughout the arena and sounding dreamy and melodic.
Prior to Getting Away With It, Tim hears some cock down the front shout if they were going to play any good songs which Tim admonishes him by asking him was he listening to what just happened and that he should try putting his heart into performing to large amounts of people and to come back when he’s done that in front of large amounts of people. Saul joins in and jokes that all the good songs are at the end.
Tim is clearly still irritated by the guy at the end of the song. He calls him “a motherfucker” and reminds him that they are “awkward Mancunian bastards who’ve been around for twenty years playing music the way we like to play music. If you don’t like it, the exit’s over there” to massive cheers from everyone else.
Upside is introduced as another song off Hey Ma and again is one of the highlights, the song being halted again before the final chorus to add to the impact at the end as Andy appears again on the raised stage at the back.
Born Of Frustration, Sit Down and Sound form a magic trilogy to end the set with the whole venue appearing to singalong, dance and wave their arms aloft. The songs are at least seventeen years old yet still sound as fresh and invigorating as ever. The huge sound systems of the arenas just add to the power of the sound coming from the stage. The visuals are stunning too. Andy prowls the stage from the lip at the front to the stage at the back, resplendent in his red dress. Tim dances as only he can and the rest of the band are more active than on previous tours. The crowd can’t fail to be won over.
The encore starts with a gorgeous version of Out To Get You. Andy and Larry move around the stage as Jim and Saul get into their customary huddle. Sometimes starts with a faster and louder intro than previously on the tour and the singalong doesn’t need any encouragement at the end and then the band kick back in before stopping the song to follow with the opening bars of Laid which is as jubilant as it’s been the whole tour.
The band leave the stage but very quickly come back as Tim says they don’t want to leave the party. He starts to swear and then stops himself as there are children present. Tomorrow is a new addition to this tour and brings the set to a frenetic close.
A great gig, on a par with Glasgow, and proof that James can still take on the big arenas and win over a crowd, even more impressive with a setlist which isn’t hit after hit after hit. Proof that there is some justice in music these days that a band that has its integrity and bloody mindedness still intact can be a success. With shows this good, it’d be a travesty any other way.
SetlistLose Control / Waltzing Along / Oh My Heart / Ring The Bells / Whiteboy / I Know What I'm Here For / Gold Mother / Stutter / Porcupine / I Wanna Go Home / Out To Get You / Lullaby / Upside / Hey Ma / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Born Of Frustration / Sit Down / Sound / Say Something / Sometimes / Laid
More Information & Reviews
After the first few shows of the tour, this is the first arena gig proper. The SECC isn’t sold out as there are curtains across the side seats, but standing is full to capacity and the seats at the back are pretty well populated. With the bigger shows, there are also screens at the side of the stage to aid those at the back to see better. There’s an expectant atmosphere in the air as the music stops and the screen starts with the daily question about what would make the world a better place. Not having to endure Athlete for half an hour is probably a good place to start. They’re not bad musicians, their songs are not bad per se, there’s just a lack of excitement to them and it drifts across the hall without grabbing anyone. When you think there are far more exciting bands doing arena support slots around this time, it’s a shame, but then let’s face it, we’re not here to watch the support band, are we?
About 9.10, the lights go down and we get another session of the Q and A about what would make the world a better place. Lots of comments about love, peace and getting rid of religion, which gets the biggest cheer of the lot.
Tim and Larry appear at the back of the venue in the seats and make their way down, pausing at the bottom for the chorus before weaving through the mass of bodies in the standing area. It’s a brave move to walk through a crowd so large and so up for the gig, but there’s no problems as they are still pretty much note perfect. They don’t quite make it all the way before the song ends, so we get an extended intro into Waltzing Along, accompanied by a few thousand Glaswegian voices. A few things are clear. The sound is superb and the lighting, brilliant as it was in Leeds, is just at a different level tonight with the bigger arena to work with. Wherever they found this guy, they should keep hold of him.
Oh My Heart starts against a gorgeous yellow backdrop and is as fierce and passionate as it’s ever been. Ring The Bells sees Andy move to the front of the stage on a specially constructed lip wearing a fetching hat. The front of the crowd becomes a sea of hands raised and sweaty moshing bodies. At the end Tim takes to the lip and dances which has the crowd in raptues. He commented in Camden that he was dancing because he was jetlagged and that he isn’t a monkey who performs for the sake of it. He seems recovered now.
Whiteboy makes it into the set for the first time. Despite the band having their toys to play with, it’s still an absolute blast, with Tim giving his admonishing finger wagging. I Know What I’m Here For follows and is accompanied by the film of fans dancing in the foyer before the show. It runs into Gold Mother, which seems a little subdued without the stage invasions of the previous tours and festival sets. Not that anyone really cares by this point. The SECC is derided by many Glaswegians as not being a great music venue. I have to say my limited view on venues based on James tours (Barras 98, SECC 98 and 99 and the Academy 07) is that it’s the one that allows James to take their show to higher levels, the sound is excellent for what is effectively a big shed and there’s room to dance without taking out the people around you.
Stutter is a case in point. It might be 25 years old, never have been committed to a studio album, but it’s mind-blowing. Probably only Honest Joe and Sound in the rest of James’ canon can demonstrate the sheer power of James at high volumes. It twists and turns. Those fans disinterested at the start of the song are mesmerised by the end, you just can’t take your eyes off the stage.
In a typically bold move, it’s time for a new song. Porcupine already feels like a vital part of James despite only having been played four times. It has that magic of being a beautiful yearning song with lyrics that are relatively easy to pick up on and which feel like they speak to you. “At the end of the road, I surrender control, diving into your arms, I depend on your help”. At the end, Saul reappears on stage at the back on a raised platform playing violin (hurrah), having gone off stage for a costume change. In his white suit with the lights focused on him, he almost looks like an angel.
I Wanna Go Home follows and the sound and lights make it even more immense and powerful. There’s a subtle but powerful melody in the verse, not getting too technical hopefully, which drives the song along. The end sees the stage explode in light as Tim and Andy prowl the stage and then it stops as Tim finishes the song off.
Keeping the pace down mid-set works beautifully as it allows the crowd to recover and demonstrate the mastery James have at lower volumes and with more intimate material to work with. The crowd respond well to it around me too. Out To Get You is familiar and we’ve heard it hundreds of times before live, but it never fails to get the hairs on the back of the neck standing up, Larry’s guitar pierces through the hot and heavy atmosphere like a knife. The crowd becomes a sea of hands. The song builds to a climax with Jim, Saul and Larry in a huddle. Tim’s face is shown on the screen as much in awe as the rest of us with what is going on. Lullaby is next and is accompanied by a drifting slideshow of what looks like toys and dolls in the background.
Upside is as lilting and gorgeous as ever from Saul’s opening guitar through to Andy’s trumpet call at the end with him on the raised platform bathed in red light. Tim changes the lyrics at the end of the first verse to “left your heart within my care”.
Hey Ma feels more at home towards the end of the set at the start of the build-up to the massive climax that follows. The crowd holler back the chorus, which still feels a bit odd given the subject matter, but it feels like a genuine communion of people’s feelings to what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Getting Away With It raises huge cheers from the crowd and starts the run-in towards the end of the set, which is as powerful and stunning a close of a set as I think I’ve ever seen James do. Born Of Frustration was so good it almost defies description. The crowd do their best indian impersonations much to Tim’s amusement. He then moves stage right with the spotlight following him, which also lights up a bemused security guard. Tim recognises the poor guy’s embarrassment and smiles at him before moving away. By the end, through two extended instrumental sections, Tim is stood on the lip of the stage with Andy knelt beside him belting out the trumpet crescendo of the song. Stunning,
Sit Down starts with a beautiful haunting extended piano intro from Mark that sends shivers down the spine. The whole place goes mental as they realise what is coming. Even tonight’s arms folded not moving man joins in. It’s impossible not to be moved by this song when you have thousands of people singing it back. Apart from the intro, it’s still performed relatively straight which, in my view, just adds more to it.
The only way to follow it is Sound. Ten minutes of wonderful structured and then semi-improvised noise, building, peaking, dropping, building again, starting again when it appears to be stopping. The band move around the stage, Andy prowling and cajoling the rest of the band. Tim looks on with the same wonder as the rest of us. There’s a point where Tim sings “I call upon my father’s spirit” and it feels like he has actually connected as there’s a shiver goes down my spine that I don’t think I’ve ever felt before. Words cannot really do this justice. The band huddle together stage front at the end to take the applause and Saul, fired up, shouts encouragement at the audience.
Coming back, Tim jumps down into the crowd for Say Something. It’s for me the one slight disappointment of the evening. Visually, it looks great on the screens, but the song, as with Waltzing Along in my view, don’t always scrub up well against the rest of the set which allows the more experimental, powerful or quieter sides of the live James experience to come out. I don’t think anyone in the venue actually agrees with me though, so I’ll stop going on about it (maybe).
Sometimes doesn’t require any encouragement from the crowd to start singing back the refrain. When it’s natural like this, it is magical. The singing seems to be cut short a little as the opening bars to Laid kick in. Noone minds. The whole place erupts and goes mental. As it stops, the band again take their bow. The crowd voice their disappointment that there’s no more.
So, in summary, a stunning show, great sound, mesmerising lighting and a crowd up for it but also willing to listen to the slower section in the middle of the set, which works excellently. The set now seems to enable the band to slot songs in and out depending on their mood during the soundcheck around a base set of songs. The ending of the show makes sure everyone goes away beaming, but there’s something for everyone in the set, which is exactly how it should be. Wonderful stuff.
SetlistLose Control / Waltzing Along / Oh My Heart / Ring The Bells / Hey Ma / Someone's Got It In For Me / I Know What I'm Here For / Gold Mother / Porcupine / I Wanna Go Home / Of Monsters And Heroes And Men / Upside / Stutter / Born of Frustration / Sit Down / Sound / Out To Get You / Sometimes / Laid
More Information & Reviews
So onto the relatively new Carling Academy, once the Town and Country Club, and as with most fizzy pop venues, somehow they’ve managed to drain some of the soul out of the place. It’s absolutely heaving downstairs, hardly room to move. We miss the support band as it takes over an hour to find a parking space in what has to be the most stupidly laid out city centre in the UK.
The band come on just after 9, following another set of audience questions projected onto the big screen. As in Brighton, Tim and Larry start the gig by wandering through the crowd playing a gorgeous acoustic version of Lose Control. It must have taken quite an effort to get through the middle of the crowd but they make it to the front for the end of the song. Waltzing Along makes its first appearance of the tour and it’s clear tonight’s crowd are in good voice and up for singing along.
The Hey Ma tracks get an excellent reception tonight as well. Oh My Heart sees arms raised in the moshpit, the front row joining in and Tim holding the end note well into the crowd’s applause at the end. The lighting effects, including some judicious use of dry ice, are absolutely stunning.
After telling the Leeds crowd he’s in his hometown (which generates a torrent of abuse from the two Bradford City fans stood near me), we’re treated to chants of “Leeds Leeds Leeds” and “Manchester. Wank wank wank” Good work at a gig by a Manchester band, Mensa must be cancelling their plans to recruit at Elland Road now. Ring The Bells ratches up the pace a bit and the first crowdsurfers are pulled out. The chorus of Hey Ma is met by raised hands and fierce shouting back of the chorus by the crowd.
Someone’s Got It In For Me takes it back down and it’s still a surprise to hear this, more than any of the others, in the set tonight. But even the most ardent Millionaires detractors can be seen singing along. As a slight criticism, it doesn’t still feel as powerful without Kulas on backing vocals, but it shows a different side to James than the singles and upbeat tracks around it.
I Know What I’m Here For sounds fresh and invigorated back in the set, fulfilling the promise it had before the recorded version didn’t do it justice. Gold Mother makes a welcome return, sans stage invasion, and again is accompanied by stunning lighting. As well as the quality of the performance, the visuals so far have been stunning, and this is even before the larger backdrops of the arenas have come into play.
Porcupine is coming together more and more with every play. It’s a slow burner, in the same vein as Bubbles, with a gorgeous yearning chorus. I Wanna Go Home and Of Monsters And Heroes And Men add to the demonstration that James best moments are not always in the power and noise of the more familiar singles. Upside, started off by Saul’s simple but heart-wrenching guitar, is as beautiful as ever, Tim holding the final chorus but not risking trying to shut this crowd up.
Stutter, with a strange but somehow effective guitar part from Larry, is dedicated to the really old James fans and is a welcome addition to the set. It’d be great to hear it at the end of the set, but that’s not very likely to happen as Sound has well and truly nailed that position.
The main set finishes with a trio of hit singles. Born Of Frustration has the audience doing their best indian impersonations and Andy’s trumpet call pierces the cries from the crowd. The end section flies off into the stratosphere, stunning musicianship as Tim prowls the stage. Sit Down starts fast, then slows down, then picks up again and the venue is turned into a seething mass of bodies, hollering each and every word back. Sound, as ever, takes on new twists and turns. At one point Saul and Jim are almost eyeball to eyeball, Andy is manic, hammering away at the trumpet. Tim watches on, probably in awe as the rest of us at what’s going on around him. It’s wonderful, it comes back in several times when it seems like it’s going to stop.
The encore, after what seems like an eternity, starts with Out To Get You. It’s noticeable now how Larry is much more mobile around the stage, getting involved more in the interaction on stage than on previous tours. The crowd sing back the whole thing in unison. It’s powerful stuff.
Sometimes sees the crowd back in with the singing back of the chorus at the band. It’s loud, it’s terribly out of tune, but that’s not the point. Half the balcony stands up, those that remain seated are still singing along. It then segues into Laid, and it all goes mental and then they’re gone, stopping to take the applause from the crowd, even perfecting the team bow at the end.
Not my favourite gig so far, I’m afraid. The sound and the lighting was excellent as was the performance. I don’t think the hassles getting to the venue and the fact it was virtually impossible to move, let alone dance in the way Brighton offered wide open spaces, in parts of the venue helped that. But from friends who were there earlier and had secured better vantage points, the response was overwhelming.
SetlistLose Control / Dream Thrum / Oh My Heart / Ring The Bells / I Know What I'm Here For / Hey Ma / Bubbles / Someone's Got It In For Me / Say Something / Porcupine / I Wanna Go Home / Of Monsters And Heroes And Men / Upside / Stutter / Born Of Frustration / Sit Down / Sound / Sometimes / Laid
More Information & Reviews
Opening night of the tour and the Dome isn’t quite full as this show was announced a lot later than the other shows, but still a respectable turnout in a frankly superb concert arena. Downstairs, you have the choice of sitting or standing and the shape of the building lends itself to you not being too far away from the action wherever you sit or stand. The introduction starts with fans filmed earlier in the foyer describing the best moment of their lives. Mine appeared to be the only one edited out, but we’re treated to someone recalling when Neil Redfearn (aka Suggs not Morrissey) scored a penalty to put Oldham Athletic into the top flight and stories of childbirth and surfing waves in Australia. In comparison, mine was a bit shit, so probably just as well.
As the lights go down, you hear the opening guitar of the gorgeous acoustic version of Lose Control, but the stage is empty and then a light appears at the back of the arena. Tim and Larry make their way through the crowd, not dropping a note, despite the attention of the fans around them, shocked and surprised at getting this close to their heroes early on in the set. They weave their way through to the front where they are joined on stage by the rest of the band, who then go into the opening notes of Dream Thrum. It’s languid and laidback and sets the tone for the evening perfectly. The backdrop is bathed in purple with ripples of waves which compliments the song perfectly. The sound is crystal clear and there don’t appear to be the technical problems that beset the show on Sunday in Camden.
Oh My Heart comes next and makes clear that James aren’t going to neglect Hey Ma in favour of the hits. And there’s absolutely no reason why they should. It’s a fucking great record, on a par with anything they’ve done and the songs we get tonight, and the sadly absent Waterfall and Whiteboy, deserve to be listened to and loved in the same way as the more familiar tracks from the back catalogue.
Ring The Bells, still with it’s pseudo What’s The World intro (please just do that one night instead), gets the crowd going a bit more, but it’s a very subdued atmosphere throughout most of the show. Given the show wasn’t sold out, we took a position towards the side so we could have a dance and were amazed at the number of people stood arms folded not moving an inch other than to applaud between songs, even when the more familiar tracks were being played.
Tim introduced I Know What I’m Here For as a song that was played during the football in the UK and it’s accompanied by shots of fans “dancing” in the foyer before the show projected onto the screen at the back of the stage. It’s a little cheesy, but then again the song is one of James’ poppiest moments so it works quite well. Tim doesn’t dance in the manner we’ve become accustomed to, the jetlag from the trip from the US appears to still be troubling him.
Hey Ma is wonderful, the song grows more every time it’s played, it builds until the chorus crashes in and there’s pockets of arms raised around the venue as people join in with the chorus. The lighting backdrop, as through most of the show, is simple, but quite stunning in its effect and how it adds to the songs being played.
The highlight of the set is Bubbles. Lee talks in the itunes commentary about it being a smorgasbord of James, and he just about hit the nail on the head. It starts slowly and steadily gets faster and then explodes as Tim starts to dance whilst belting out the words. The song’s about the birth of his second child and the euphoria just pours out of the music and the lyrics.
Someone’s Got It In For Me keeps the pace quite subdued, but James’ power and beauty isn’t just in the full on nature and the cacophonies of sound of some of the hits that follow. The mastery of the more subtle moments, of which this is a prime example, sometimes gets lost by the sheer weight of numbers and quality of the hits, but it shouldn’t. Even accounting for the massive gap left by Kulas not being around to provide the backing vocals, it sets the hairs on the back of the neck up on edge.
For Say Something, Tim takes matters in his own hands and starts a tour round the stalls on the edge of the wall between the seated and standing areas of the downstairs stalls. I’ve got to admit this is the one of the “hits” I’d be happy to see disappear from the set to keep it fresh for a while, but you can’t play down the look on the faces of the crowd, startled as Tim dances in the way only he can on a five feet ledge in front of them. Two ladies are drawn to touch Tum’s toes and then run off like excited schoolgirls.
Next up is a new song, Porcupine, which was debuted in Camden on Sunday. On second listen, and without Tim’s vocals being drowned out by the failings of the system, it makes much more sense. It’s one of those yearning songs, as I think Brian Eno described Waltzing Along, that James do so well. Despite the rather odd titlle,the chorus talks about surrendering control. It bodes extremely well for 2009 that new songs are being thrown out into what is basically a celebration tour.
The expected onslaught of hits to end the set doesn’t happen just yet. I Wanna Go Home and Of Monsters and Heroes and Men provide more compelling evidence that playing more than half of Hey Ma in no way detracts from the live James experience. Give me I Wanna Go Home over Johnny Yen any day and surprise me with the latter from time to time. It twists and turns and spits at you. Monsters sees a mirror ball drop down from the roof and hang over Tim’s head as the lights bounce off, adding to the effect of the song.
Let’s be honest about the next song. Upside should have been a single. The fucked up nature of the record industry now means singles are for novelty acts, X Factor shit, the megabands that regularly strut the arenas and up and coming bands trying to get someone to give them an album deal. In a parallel universe with proper singles and b-sides, Upside is a number one single. As the songs drops and then rises back up into the extended instrumental ending, that parallel universe is in Brighton. It’s simply wonderful.
And so is Stutter. The slight disappointment with the reunion so far, is the exclusion of too much from the Stutter and Strip-Mine tracks. Stutter never made either, despite being the title for one and appearing on the unmixed unreleased original version of the latter. Live, even back as far as the Hacienda footage from 1983, it’s a killer track and it doesn’t disappoint tonight, from Larry’s almost staccato intro through the stunning lighting as it builds to a climax. Magical.
Born Of Frustration then starts a trio of big hit singles to close to set. The crowd suddenly come to life except for standing still arms folded man who decided it was a good idea to plant himself and his missus in the middle of a group of people dancing. Well done mate. Not wanting to denigrate his replacement, but Larry makes these songs his own. It seems like the band have no idea how to start Sit Down, Dave has a go and then everyone stops to allow Mark to play the spine-tingling piano-effect driven intro. I don’t care what anyone says about it being overplayed, it’s a brilliant song and there’s no shame in having something that can unite a crowd in a way that, being realistic about it, no other James song, however great they are, can quite manage. Get over it and sing along.
Sound, as ever, is a vehicle to show off the brilliance of the musicians in the band. It never sounds the same two nights running and it never fails to provide something new, starting endless debates about the best version of it ever and last night was no different. Again, the lighting adds to the overall effect without stealing the show. And then they’re gone.
Coming back for an encore that is sadly shorn of Lullaby because of curfew restrictions, it starts with Sometimes. The crowd does take quite a lot of encouragement to start singing the chorus back at the end, almost on the point of it being forced and unnatural. If the crowd don’t take on the call when Larry starts singing, it’d be nice to drop straight into Laid and use the three or four minutes of crowd singing to give us another song. I guess this depends on the crowd, when it’s natural it’s breathtaking, witness Edinburgh last year, but sometimes it just doesn’t quite happen, and last night was one of those nights.
Laid sends the crowd home happy and induces a moshpit for the first time in the evening. I blow hot and cold with this being in the set. I’m erring on the hot side at the moment when it’s at the end of a set with so much of the other side of James on show as tonight had demonstrated.
Writing this on the way up to Manchester, I’ve read some of the comments about the set being light on hits. Nine singles out of nineteen songs isn’t a huge ratio admittedly, but James are not a turn up and get your hits out band and never really have been. I don’t think it’s too much to expect for someone to have listened to the latest album of a band you’ve just paid the best part of forty quid to go and see or for the band to want to play songs from a record that stands, in their (and my) view, alongside the best of their work. A nod to some of the less well-known aspects of their back catalogue is not unreasonable either. When you go and see James, you don’t get the same set with the same between song banter, the same twists and turns in songs. James are much more than that, you’ll get songs you’ve not heard for years, the odd curveball as well as the hits you know and love. That’s why they’re unique. If you a band to play you hit after hit after hit with no passion or emotion, James are not the band for you. If you’re dithering on whether to go and see them this tour, do it or regret it.
Great gig and they’re building. This tour is going to be something special.
A limited production live album on available at tour venues that was released 15 years ago.
Oh My Heart / Born of Frustration / Upside / Tomorrow / Bubbles / Hey Ma / Senorita / Waterfall / Boom Boom / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Whiteboy / Sometimes / Laid / Lullaby
|Release Name:||Live In 2008|
|Release Date:||7 December 2008|
This live album was produced by the band and mixed by Lee ‘Muddy’ Baker, taken from recordings of the shows on the April 2008 UK tour. The album is limited to 5,000 copies and only available at the merchandise desk on the UK December 2008 tour.
Not found on Spotify.
- Isle Of Wight Festival – 13th June 2015
- BBC Maida Vale Studios – 10th October 2014
- T In The Park – 12th July 2014
- Portland Kink Lounge – 8th October 2010
- 2007 – 2009: The Boys Are Back
- San Diego 94.9 – 3rd October 2008
- The Jonathan Ross Show (Hey Ma) – 27th June 2008
- KCRW Santa Monica – 6th June 2008
- Later With Jools – 29th April 2008
- Radio Aryla Session – April 2008
- Benicassim Festival – 3rd August 2001
- Top Of The Pops (Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)) – July 2001
- CD UK (Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)) – July 2001
- VH1 Ray Cokes Show – July 2001
- Later With Jools – 18th May 2001
- Chelmsford V Festival – 23rd August 1998
- MTV Up For It – March 1998
- TFI Friday (Tomorrow) – April 1997
- MTV 120 Minutes – 16th January 1994
- Laid (Conan O’Brien Show) – January 1994
- Jay Leno Show (Sometimes) – October 1993
- London Astoria – 28th September 1993
- Top Of The Pops (Sometimes) – September 1993
- The Beat (Sometimes) – August 1993
- Warrington Parr Hall (evening) – 20th December 1991
- Warrington Parr Hall (afternoon) – 20th December 1991
- London Tufnell Park Dome – 12th June 1991
- Aberdeen AECC – 25th April 2008
- Edinburgh Corn Exchange – 24th April 2008
- Blackpool Empress Ballroom – 22nd April 2008
- Bristol Colston Hall – 21st April 2008
- Oxford New Theatre – 19th April 2008
- Norwich UEA – 18th April 2008
- London Shepherd’s Bush Empire – 17th April 2008
- Sheffield Academy – 15th April 2008
- Newcastle Academy – 14th April 2008
- Liverpool University – 12th April 2008
- Lincoln Engine Shed – 11th April 2008
- Derby Assembly Rooms – 10th April 2008
- Bradford St George’s Hall – 8th April 2008
SetlistSomeone's Got It In For Me / Lullaby / How Was It For You / Look Away / Burned / Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) / Dream Thrum / Porcupine / Just Like Fred Astaire / I Know What I'm Here For / Stutter / Upside / Sound / Lose Control (acoustic)
More Information & Reviews
Not so much a gig, as an open rehearsal this one. And a set list far out of left-field. The Proud Gallery is an awful place for a gig, the sound set up is all wrong, the white background against which the bands play is unsuited to gigs and has The Blues Anthology written directly behind Tim, the floor (and I’m sure it’s part of the “concept” of the fact it used to be stables) is uneven and rutted and the lighting seems to consist of an on/off switch. Tim’s clearly jetlagged, there’s issues with the bass which packs in completely at the end. And, despite everything, it all holds that uniqueness that has made every James gig special in its own right.
After what seems like an age getting into the venue, and then longer into the room and then even longer for them to come on, Someone’s Got It In For Me would normally be a strange opener but fits the tone of what’s to come. Lullaby keeps the pace relatively sedate for the start. How Was It For You gets a part of the crowd dancing. To be honest, it’s loose and on the edge of falling apart, but that just makes it more exciting.
Look Away is the first of the two new songs. It’s difficult to tell what Tim is singing about as Dave’s drums are way too high in the mix to make them out, but the song itself is quite mid-paced and languid and builds gently. It’s not immediate, but the best James songs previewed live are generally the ones that aren’t (with the odd exception – Upside, Sit Down). It’s great to hear new material though, laurels are clearly not being rested upon and the appearance of them would seem to suggest more releases down the line.
On the night fans can first get their hands on the new James live CD, it’s fitting that the highlights of the set are the reappearance of two long-lost favourites from the first live album. Burned, apart from a short-lived and rare appearance on the 1991 tour, hasn’t been played for twenty years. It’s been called for by fans for a while now and it’s refreshing to see that someone in James Central has listened and they’ve tried it. It sounds as biting, pointed and relevant today as it did then.
Getting Away With It takes ages to get started with them not quite having worked out responsibility for starting it, but it induces the first main singalong of the evening and breaks the gig a little for some of those less familiar with the side of James back catalogue on show tonight. It’s then into Dream Thrum, which was resurrected on the recent US tour, which builds momentum as the song grows.
The second new song, Porcupine, seems more formed than the first although Tim needs his lyric sheets. As with Look Away, it’s not an instant classic but definitely is something that I’d like to hear again on the tour as they hone it down in soundchecks and the remaining rehearsals.
Two Millionaires tracks follow, making it three on the evening, the most in a set since the reunion and an indication perhaps that the tour will touch all bases in the back catalogue. Just Like Fred Astaire is characterised by Mark’s keyboards and sounds as uplifting as ever. I Know What I’m Here For benefits from having the effects turned down slightly and guitar higher in the mix.
The second highlight is Stutter. For years, this was a traditional set-closer and brings up the end of One Man Clapping. Without the lights that used to accompany it, it’s not stripped of the power of the music as it spirals to a crescendo of noise at the end.
The set is changed slightly to allow the only Hey Ma track of the evening, Upside, to be added. There’s an argument between Saul and Larry over Saul’s guitar strap, which he claims Larry has. It’s all good-natured and once the set up is sorted out, the song is There’s a guy next to me and this is the only song he sings along to, which struck me as weird, but on reflection not a bad thing for James’ future.
Sound is troubled by issues with Jim’s bass. This does allow the song to take on a different slant and sound different again. It’s curtailed slightly as it’s still early days for the tour and rehearsals so we don’t get the instinctive improvised extended ending sadly.
In the absence of a working bass guitar, the encore is restricted, probably by curfew as well, to a gorgeous acoustic rendition of Lose Control from Tim and Larry.
This was, as Tim pointed out, never going to be like a normal James gig. These shows are there to test out songs for the tour that haven’t been played for a while or to roadtest new songs. James’ audience has become accustomed to this so there’s few dissenting voices. The choices of songs though show that there’s a thoughtfulness gone into some of the selections that hopefully will make the tour a real celebration of 25 years since What’s The World was first released.
Bring on Brighton. And please can we go back to Hoxton next time.