Monkey God / Shatters / Bone / Down To The Sea / Buried Alive / Monsters / All About Time
review by oneofthethree
Coming on stage fifteen minutes late due a technical problem with Dan’s keyboard sees a few people leave to other stages, but there’s still a very decent crowd in the tent by the time Tim and the band make it to the stage, without Saul for this only festival appearance of the summer. Making light of the delay, Tim picks up a clock that’s left on the stage for the bands to see how long they have left and tells the crowd he only reads digital. The delay means we lose Fall In Love With Me from the set, which would have been an odd choice for a tent slot mid-afternoon at the festival.
However, Monkey God kicks off the set and what’s immediately obvious is that the sound very much fills the tent. Away from the smaller venues of the tour, it’s great to see how this works in a bigger, wider space with a larger crowd. Tim prowls the stage menacingly and ends up dancing facing Dan on the raised platform the keyboards are on. Shatters similarly benefits from the wider spaces and sounds huge with Neil, hair flicking back and forward, dancing as he plays bass. Bone starts with an elongated sax intro from Dan and gets huge cheers when Tim starts to dance. He then climbs back onto Dan’s platform to hold the mic close to the melodica for the instrumental section.
Tim then causes mass panic amongst Nigel and the security guards by jumping off stage as Dan sings the high note at the start of Down To The Sea. Not content with going to the barrier, he climbs over the barrier, narrowly avoiding falling on his face (again), and walks through the crowd singing, gaining a fetching straw hat on the way through. It wins the doubters in the crowd over. As he finishes and climbs back over, he realises he can’t get back on stage without going all the way round the back.
To finish the set, we get a trio of tracks from Love Life that demonstrate firstly the quality of the record, and secondly the quality of the band. Shorn of the violin in the intro, Buried Alive doesn’t lose anything as a result, the backing vocals over the chorus soaring and lifting the song as it reaches an extended improvised outro which starts with Dan on keys and Lee with some subtle guitar, but which explodes into noise when Rob kicks the drums back in. Monsters is loud and bold, the audience clapping along to the menacing beat, a song that needs a bigger audience than it’s been granted so far. Before closer All About Time, Tim picks up the now broken clock and says that can play on forever as it’s broken. He takes time out to take the mickey of Lee’s tiny amplifier. All About Time is a great set closer though, the stream of lyrics always on the edge of breakdown at breakneck speed into the poppier singalong chorus. It finishes with an improvised outro and there’s a great response from the crowd as it ends.
All in all, a great festival set without taking the easy option of throwing in a James song for the masses. The band seem to be still growing together and are more confident in their sound, despite the glitches that caused the delay. It’s a real shame and worry that there’s nothing announced on the horizon. It would be a shameful waste if this album and this band had said their goodbyes at Hop Farm.