Secret post-gig set in an old disused church.
Gloria Descends / Fall In Love / Down To The Sea / The Point Of Darkness
Secret post-gig set in an old disused church.
Gloria Descends / Fall In Love / Down To The Sea / The Point Of Darkness
As Far As I Can See / Wave Hello / Monkey God / Bless Them All / Consequences / Dance Of The Bad Angels / Gloria Descends / Old Ways / Hit Parade / Down To The Sea / Bone / Butterfly’s Dream / Shatters / Monsters / All About Time / Fall In Love With Me / Buried Alive / The Point Of Darkness / What’s The World
As Far As I Can See / Wave Hello / Monkey God / Bless Them All / Consequences / Dance Of The Bad Angels / Gloria Descends / Hit Parade / Butterfly’s Dream / Down To The Sea / Bone / Shatters / Monsters / All About Time / Fall In Love With Me / Buried Alive / The Point Of Darkness
As Far As I Can See / Wave Hello / Monkey God / Bless Them All / Consequences / Dance Of The Bad Angel / Gloria Descends / Hit Parade / Old Ways / Down To The Sea / Bone / Shatters / Monsters / All About Time / Fall In Love With Me / Buried Alive / The Point Of Darkness / What’s The World
review by oneofthethree
It’s another disappointing turnout for the gig in Sheffield tonight – frustrating in the sense that this is great music and there’s a connection being made between the band and the crowds that are there, but then there’s almost a real sense of back to basics, that this is a delicious secret that’s being shared by a few but which deserves a wider audience. James played gigs like this for years and it didn’t serve them in bad stead. The sad dynamic of the present music industry and the economic climate is that the big gigs, the “experiences” of Kylie, Lady Ga Ga, U2, Muse, will still sell and for silly prices and even old-stagers like James can trade on their reputation for being a great live band by still being a great live band and with new material that whilst not as singalong as the hits from the nineties still stands the acid quality test. Tim’s situation is different – he has a great record, a great band, but are people going to go out and spend £20 a ticket, plus drinks, food and transport, for something that’s not as familiar to them, that isn’t pumped via Hit FM into their houses, when they’re struggling with rising living costs, fear for their jobs and general uncertainty? The answer would seem to be no. You can’t reduce ticket prices too far, because these tours, even operating on basics, still cost money to put together and there’s little left to actually promote the gigs other than word of mouth and the internet. There’s no lavish SJM glossy video, front page on Seetickets website, newspaper adverts to promote Tim in the way James had for their last tour.
In a way, and it won’t console Tim’s bank manager, this has a positive impact at the shows in the way the audience react to the songs. Most of the people at the shows will have sought out details, had to make an effort to get there past clicking on a link on a mailing list. Looking at the people singing along, there’s a large proportion of them, Fall In Love With Me is respected because people get it and know they need to shut up. Double or triple the audience size and you’d get heckling, unrest that there’s one James song tonight, right at the end and it’s a 28 year old single on Factory. On the way out, two guys were talking, one a James fan who’d brought his mate along, and was apologising for the gig being “shit” as there were no James songs and his mate, who’d never seen James and clutching a special edition, cutting him down by telling him something along the lines that he thought he liked music and how could he not have enjoyed that show.
Anyway I digress. The Leadmill has an odd sound set up, the main speakers in the ceiling but then some huge bass speakers either side of the stage that seriously boom out. Stand near them and you can feel the floor vibrate for most of the show. It does have a nice high stage though which gives everyone a great view and allows Chris to work his magic with the simple, but very cleverly executed light show.
The gig starts with Tim coming through the audience with the rest of the band singing As Far As I Can See. There’s a comedy moment when a guy in a pink shirt is given the mic by Tim to whistle and can’t manage to get anything out. Everyone laughs. Tim smiles and gives him another go and he cracks it this time which gets him a cheer from the crowd. They then work their way to the stage, Tim stopping to sing to and with other people in the crowd. At the end of the song Tim tells a story of how Patti Smith once chastised an audience at a far from sold out gig for not bringing their friends and says we would consider ourselves ticked off.
Wave Hello and Monkey God start to rock out, the latter having a change of lyrics in one of the verses which works really well. Tim tells a story about the royal wedding and his visit to his mum in the old folks home as some technical stuff is being sorted out. Bless Them All starts soft and slow before exploding into a chorus and an ending with the audience being invited to sing-along into the microphone as the band add harmonies to Tim. Consequences is dark and brooding and gets a great response from the audience.
Another comical moment ensues at the start of Dance Of The Bad Angel when Tim sings the first line and waits for quiet and then realises the noise is the venue air-conditioning, so carries on. It’s the one song that suffers most from the slightly overpowering bass. No such worries with Gloria Descends, which ends with some absolutely beautiful vocals with Tim, Lee and Neil singing “descends descends” in turn.
As in Wrexham, the band introduce another Booth and the Bad Angel song that they’ve learnt on the tour. Tonight it’s Hit Parade, which was played about seven times in the soundcheck earlier as they were trying to get it right. It’s punchy and upbeat and leads the way into Old Ways, which is again a highlight of the set, Dan jumping on his stool, Neil rocking out and his hair flying everywhere and Tim pointing and smiling at an enthusiastic dancer in the crowd. It also has a beautiful breakdown section in the middle with Dan’s keys.
After Down To The Sea, Tim asks if anyone has any questions as no-one had at the VIP soundcheck – I’m not sure however he was expecting the favourite dinosaur question. I didn’t catch his answer if anyone was wondering, although Lee suggests Larry out of James as his answer.
Bone and Shatters have become staples in the latter part of the set, and with good reasons. Bone is long and languid and showcases the skills of the band, whilst Shatters has an anthemic quality, particularly in the live environment.
Monsters again proves to be a highlight, dark, weird and shouty, Tim having earlier said he’d developed from what Brian Eno had called a “crooner” into being able to be a “shouter” as well. All About Time, introduced as about addictive culture, is as wild as ever – it’s surprising Tim can sing the lyrics at the speed he does and get them all right. No notes needed. The band take over and jam the song to its end with Tim using the large stage to lose himself in dance.
Fall In Love With Me starts the encore and is beautifully observed by all, except the air-conditioning. There’s some sound issues during Buried Alive, where it cuts out a bit before there’s a quick fix mid-song. The Point Of Darkness ends with five of the band, not Saul for some reason, stood together singing accapella and then the audience join in. It’s a surprise success live and is a great set-closer.
They do however then respond to calls to come back for a second time and we’re treated to a very short run through What’s The World. It’s funny that until it’s played, I hadn’t realised there wasn’t a James track in the set. It didn’t matter and whilst both Suffering and Falling Down have sounded great and been given a new life by how they’ve been played.
It just still feels wrong that there weren’t more people there to see and experience this.
Dance Of The Bad Angel / Do Yourself A Favour / Bless Them All / Consequences / Wave Hello / Monkey God / What’s The World / Redneck / Gloria Descends / Down To The Sea / Bone / Monsters / Shatters / Falling Down / All About Time / Fall In Love With Me / Buried Alive / The Point Of Darkness
review by oneofthethree
This was always going to be one of the more interesting gigs on the tour. Firstly it was all seated and secondly the venue holds around 900 people, close to the capacities at the sold-out Manchester and Glasgow shows combined, so it was always going to be a challenge to sell enough tickets to make the hall look full. In the end, just over 200 people made it to the show, a mixture of ages, from families with very young children to more senior couples. There were a few in the bar singing along to Sometimes, which made you worry how they were going to react to a set that, a 1983 single and an album track aside, had no James songs at all in it.
The set as a result was going to be different, and so it proved to be, not even playing the “single” As Far As I Can See and dropping You Can’t Tell How Much Suffering and Old Ways, which were two of the mainstays and highlights of the set and playing a quieter set that demanded the audience listen, although there were still moments where the band let themselves go and hammered out the faster songs.
Dance Of The Bad Angel opened the set and the additional space on the large stage meant Tim had more room to dance than he had on previous nights and also allowed the lights to have much more of an effect than on the cramped stages of the previous dates. Do Yourself A Favour made its’ first appearance of the tour and started subdued until the drums kicked in, Tim came off the stage and made a grab for the camera of a man filming in the aisle and then proceeded to dance with him.
The one thing about the show that surprised me was that apart from a group of people at the back, there was no real standing up at all until All About Time, which meant there was some dissipation of the energy coming off the stage on some of the faster songs, although there was a lot of clapping along at points, but more attention to the slower songs. It was great to see small pockets getting excited at What’s The World being played (and Dan taking a run up to jump onto his stool and then off again to play his keys), which Tim introduced as the first song he ever wrote, and also to hear the first appearance of Redneck, which had gone through quite a lot of work in the soundcheck after they had decided on the bus to try it out.
Down To The Sea saw Tim go out into the crowd again, and ending the song on his knees singing to a very young girl in the front row. It was an extremely touching moment and fully in keeping with how this tour has seen a much more intimate connection with the crowds than the bigger James shows – James have never, as far as I’m aware, been to Wrexham or Kendal, so this is a unique opportunity for people to see Tim in places he hasn’t been before.
There’s a lot of good natured jesting on stage, and at the end between band and crowd, with Saul making a topical joke about calling someone “dear” and then telling the crowd they might not get it now they have their own parliament. It’s taken the way it’s meant.
Despite the plethora of empty seats, this was still a great show, the crowd listening and getting more involved as the show went on. There’s something seriously wrong with the music industry if there’s not a place for shows like this pulling in hundreds of people. It’s testament to the quality of the songs on Love Life and Bone that they triumph through, and 200 Wrexham fans go home happy.
As Far As I Can See / Wave Hello / What’s The World / Monkey God / Bless Them All / Consequences / Dance Of The Bad Angel / Gloria Descends / Old Ways / You Can’t Tell How Much Suffering (On A Face That’s Always Smiling) / Down To The Sea / Bone / Shatters / Falling Down / Monsters / All About Time / Fall In Love With Me / The Point Of Darkness / Buried Alive
review by oneofthethree
An interesting evening as ever in Leeds. A full house, Tim having to tell people to stop yelling through every song, a fight and another performance by the band that’s getting stronger and stronger with every show. It starts with Tim coming through the audience with the band for As Far As I Can See and it’s great to see people singing along – the crowds on this tour haven’t been huge, but they’ve been knowledgeable about what’s being played and have been willing to listen. Leeds were great in that respect as well, despite the girl screaming through the first few songs – “come on Tim” every few minutes and “oggy oggy oggy” – who Unkle Bob had warned Tim about.
Despite reservations at the soundcheck, the sound in the venue is excellent once it’s full of people and the fact that it’s in a railway arch makes it very intimate – that extending to the stage which struggles to fit all six of the band on it without them being hidden behind speaker stacks.. Wave Hello is more effervescent and fresh than it’s ever sounded and the crowd, very up for it for a Wednesday night, go wild. What’s The World has as much energy and vibrancy as I’ve ever heard it being played. Tim has to tell people to get off the stairs at the front of the stage. Monkey God maintains the pace of the set and the band rescue it mid-song when it threatens to go wrong.
The set slows down with a beautiful yearning version of Bless Them All and a slighting menacing Consequences, demonstrating that the band can do subtle as well as rocking out. Tim’s voice is sounding as good as it has done for a long time. Tim has, like those around him, had enough of the girl screaming out during the songs and stops Dance Of The Bad Angel to ask her to stop or move away as “this is different to James”. He handles it very well and the girl, to be fair to her, does seem to comply. The song starts again and is delivered beautifully, building into a crescendo of guitar and violin at the end.
Gloria is introduced as a story about a friend who took Tim moonlight surfing and again is a demonstration of the fragility and beauty that can be created by music – Lee and Dan’s backing vocals at the end are jaw-dropping. It’s then the rockier side coming back for the remainder of the main set. Old Ways was recorded with Angelo Badalamenti and Bernard Butler, but it has a new lease of life on this tour and has been a definite stand-out track.
Saul gets heckled before the start of Suffering, but can’t tell what the heckle is, which leads to a comic moment where Tim introduces him as Fred Davies, Saul’s better looking and more talented twin, before Lee calls him Richard Hammond. Saul gets his own back by describing Lee as George Samaras, the Celtic striker, Tim then gets called Ming the Merciless, which he turns round to Ming The Effeminate. Into Suffering and again you wonder how many people recognise it as a James song. Not that it matters, it fits in with the mood and tempo of the rest of the set perfectly.
Tim goes out into the crowd for Down To The Sea, a brave move given that there’s been a fight and blood spilt out there already, but he’s mobbed by people as he stands in the middle of the crowd singing. Bone starts with what can best described as a sax solo from Dan and benefits from the great sound in the venue. Shatters fills the hall with sax and guitar and seems to have an harder edge to it than some of the previous nights.
Falling Down is full-on wig-out. Dan gives Tim a run for this money in the visual stakes as he jumps and hops and hammers his keyboards and Monsters follows suit, the ending of most of the band shouting “there’s monsters coming to get you” the sort of thing that could scare children. Tim forgets the opening lines to All About Time, so we get the treat of an extended intro jam, which is then followed by an extended outro jam as they pull the song out and take it in new directions, stopping and starting it again and you can hear the crowd singing back the chorus with some gusto.
Fall In Love With Me, as with most shows, is very well respected and people keep quiet and listen, whilst The Point Of Darkness doesn’t quite reach the heights it has done on previous nights, but Buried Alive seals the deal for the evening, manic violin from Saul stealing the show as the song spirals to its conclusion.
Another great show, not spoilt too much by the screaming woman and the fight for most people hopefully. It was good to see the venue full and people dancing and singing along as well. This show and set needs to be seen by more people and in bigger venues, people need to get past the “it’s not James” line as well – of course it’s not James, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be good, it’s different, and in lots of good, exciting ways if you take a chance and go with it. Tim Booth solo is in addition to James, not instead of. Catch one of the remaining shows if you can and prepare to be treated.
As Far As I Can See / Monkey God / Wave Hello / Bless Them All / Consequences / Dance Of The Bad Angels / Old Ways (abandoned) / Gloria Descends / Old Ways / You Can’t Tell How Much Suffering (On A Face That’s Always Smiling) / Down To The Sea / Bone / Shatters / Falling Down / Monsters / All About Time / Fall In Love With Me / Buried Alive / The Point Of Darkness
review by oneofthethree
Cambridge Junction 2 is an ideal venue for the sort of intimate gig that Tim is putting on this tour. It has both standing and seating areas, a high stage and high roof and a sound system that can handle both the loud and more delicate moments of Tim’s set. After an extended support slot from Unkle Bob, the lights go down and the opening strains of As Far As I Can See ring out, but as there’s noone on stage, there’s puzzlement, which is soon cured by Tim and the band appearing at the back entrance to the venue, negotiating the stairs and walking through the crowd performing the song, stopping dead centre in the standing area for the main part of it. The rest of the band make their way to the stage to finish the song whilst Tim remains in the audience until the end.
Monkey God starts and then stops abruptly, but the crowd see this as part of the charm of watching this band. They’re always on the edge – you have to be if you’re not just churning out the same set the same way every night and you’re trying to do something different with songs and messing with the setlist. Once they get it right, the crisp sound combined with the lighting create a spectacle worthy of much bigger places than this. At the end Tim and Dan appear to be having a sing-off of the “home” line. Wave Hello is equally as powerful, clear evidence that the six are getting tighter and more adventurous as this tour goes on.
Bless Them All starts with a very beautiful haunted understated melody before the chorus kicks in and the ending has everyone except Saul singing the refrain. Consequences has a darker broodier edge on stage than it does on record, Tim’s vocal laced with menace.
Tim apologises for swearing as he introduces Dance Of The Bad Angels as about “f**king God”. It’s stunning on so many levels and it’s great to have an audience that is willing to listen to material that they might not be too familiar.
The mandatory technical issues kick in. There’s some issues with Tim’s mic and then a machine’s broken so they can’t start Gloria, so they start Old Ways, which comes crashing to a halt half way through. They’ve fixed the machine now so they go back to Gloria, which agains benefits from the additional time the band have had with it as it has an angelic feel to the ending as vocals soar and dip as the music becomes more and more minimal. It’s beautiful.
Old Ways is preceded by banter between Saul, Lee and Tim about how Lee didn’t originally like the song and Saul ribs the others because he was sticking to the setlist. It rocks out and forms a perfect foil for How Much Suffering, which has the instrumental outro added back in.
Down To The Sea sees Tim jump down onto the barrier and then into the crowd where he tries to encourage a guy to dance who isn’t moving around and then he moves on to dance with a woman. Tim’s travels don’t disguise a great performance from the band on the song, Dan’s backing vocals don’t sound like they should be coming from a bearded 25 year old, whilst Neil and Rob’s bass and drums again form the spine of the song that the others play around. Tim jokes that his venture into the crowd was less of a stagedive than a stately walkabout.
Once Tim finds himself back on stage, Bone starts and ends with sax that sends ripples around the venue and sends the hairs on the back of the neck on end. It’s loose, free-flowing and has some of the crowd dancing. Again, the crowd listen, almost in awe, at the sax solo outro, with Tim commenting that it draws more out of the band with people listening.
Shatters features some beautiful violin from Saul, after another false start where Tim and Saul joke about who started the song at the right time – for effect, Saul counts Tim in.
It’s always amusing to listen to the start of Falling Down and watch the crowd’s faces when Tim starts singing and they realise what the song is. Rarely played live by James, and to be honest never really mastered when they did, it bears the imprint of this band on it like a big irremovable tattoo. Monsters is huge, throbbing, pulsating and menacing, building to a crescendo. All About Time has some subtle new arrangements to do it, driven by a heckle that it sounded like Status Quo in Birmingham and brings the set to a great close.
The encore starts with Fall In Love With Me and Tim’s requests for listening are perfectly adhered to as his voice pierces the air in the hall. Buried Alive features an end of song jam that is getting less rigid and more fluid by the night. The Point Of Darkness again works brilliantly as a set-closer, there’s no singalong from the crowd tonight, but the band leave the stage with Tim still singing it and Neil still playing acoustic, with them finishing the song in the dressing room.
Another excellent show – it’s a real shame that this isn’t being played out to bigger audiences, a sad testimony to the state of the music industry today, where people are force-fed manufactured pop, indie by numbers or are taken on a nostalgia trip of hits from the nineties and “classic album” gigs. James, by and large, have avoided that to some extent, yet this is right out there on the fringes – under-rehearsed yes, but thrilling, exciting and mesmerising. Do yourself a favour and get to one of these shows that are left.
As Far As I Can See / Monkey God / Wave Hello / Gloria Descends / Bless Them All / Consquences / Old Ways / Monsters / What’s The World / Bone / Butterfly’s Dream / Shatters / Falling Down / All About Time / Fall In Love With Me / Dance Of The Bad Angels / Buried Alive / The Point Of Darkness
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 / Gloria Descends / Bone / Buried Alive / Shatters / Falling Down / All About Time / Fall In Love With Me / The Point Of Darkness
review by oneofthethree
Opening night in Manchester and it’s the first time Tim’s new band have played to more than 10 people. The VIP soundcheck has them still working on arrangements of songs, how to end them and is a genuine and fascinating insight into how that process really works. It’s a little seat of the pants, but there’s an authenticity to it and there’s real excitement on stage and a great camaraderie between the band, even when Saul turns up half way through due to delays en route (via an organic coffee shop and plastic cigarettes). They try getting the crowd to sing the outro to Bless Them All and they decide to play a fourth song – All About Time – instead of fielding more questions.
The gig is sold out so the Club Academy is packed and warm by the time Unkle Bob finish their set and there’s a buzz in the air as it’s rare to see Tim so up close and personal these days. An old trick, but one that still works, is starting the set by coming through the audience and the whole band do this for As Far As I Can See, all singing along, finishing the song on the stage.
The set is perfectly paced throughout, it starts with two faster songs from Bone, before introducing the new album, a Regina Spektor cover, one of two Booth and the Bad Angel songs, a more obscure choice of a James cover, before back to Love Life, around which most of the second half of the set is based. Despite the lack of time to rehearse together, there’s a great chemistry between Tim and the rest of the band. Neil and Lee have played together for a long time in My Federation, Rob is a veteran of The Lovegods, who Tim supported at some very early solo shows in Brighton and multi-instrumentalist Dan brings a great versatility and subtlety to the mix. Add in Saul who moves between 12 string guitar and violin over the top and there’s a very potent mix.
It’s loud in the Academy and this gives a rockier edge to even the slower songs off Love Life. There’s points where the crowd are singing back even the newest songs. Tim forgets the words to the first verse of Gloria Descends and they stop it four times when even the Ipad doesn’t help and it actually adds to the evening, especially when Lee decides they’ll just go straight to the chorus and everyone else instinctively goes with him. It’s exciting and real and whilst it may not be to the bigger crowds of some of the city’s other venues that Tim has been in before, they know what they’re here for and there’s an energy in the room that you can only get in venues of this size.
A great opening night. Tim looks and sounds like he’s having a blast. Come with an open mind if you’ve not seen him “solo” before.
Gloria Descends was first released on the Tim Booth’s solo album Love Life.
|Released:||4th April 2011|
|First Heard Live:|
|Where To Get:||
Tim Booth: Love Life
Love Life, a 2011 Studio Album by Tim Booth.
Tim Booth’s long-awaited solo follow up to Bone.
Standard CD / Vinyl – As Far As I Can See / Buried Alive / Harbour / All About Time / The Point Of Darkness / Consequences / Bless Them All / Monsters / Do Yourself A Favour / Shatters / Gloria Descends
Deluxe CD (with vinyl only) – As Far As I Can See / Buried Alive / Harbour / All About Time / The Point Of Darkness / Consequences / Bless Them All / Monsters / Do Yourself A Favour / Shatters / Gloria Descends / Faith / Next Door To Heaven / Consequences (demo) / As Far As I Can See (demo)
Amazon special edition download featuring exclusive track Surrender
I-Tunes special edition download featuring exclusive track Love Life
16 page booklet featuring Tim’s writings
|Release Name:||Love Life|
|Artist Name:||Tim Booth|
|Release Date:||4th April 2011|
|Label:||Monkey God Records|
|Produced:||Lee Muddy Baker|
|Engineered:||Ben McDonagh Booth|
|Mixed:||Lee Muddy Baker|
|Additional Musicians:||Lee Muddy Baker, Ben McDonagh Booth|
Love Life has been a long time coming. Fresh from the celebratory gigs that accompanied the Bone album in 2004, Tim wanted to get back into the studio and work on a follow-up. Things didn’t come together as quickly as he hoped due to other commitments for him and his partner-in-crime Lee Muddy Baker. Then James came calling and the album got put on hold, to be worked on when the James rollercoaster paused for breath and now, as the rest of James promised Tim, there’s time and space for this rather beautiful record to make its entrance into the world.
Bone was born in a world post-James, where there was no other outlet for Tim’s passion for writing lyrics and making music and that, combined with Baker’s often unorthodox but effective working methods, meant that the album jumped from one theme and one mood to the next, usually within the same song, a patchwork, which given its birth in two Brighton bedrooms, gave it a charm and a life that made it very Tim Booth and very un-Jamesian.
Love Life comes out in a very different environment. James are back, playing arenas, releasing a successful album in Hey Ma and two well-received mini-albums The Night Before and The Morning After. Logically, there’s no need for this record, but when was logic a factor in the music business. This is an album that needed to be made, needed to be heard, free from the constraints of a band of seven, and it succeeds in being a Tim Booth album and not an album by that bloke out of James.
As Far As I Can See is one of the oldest songs of the album, having been played accompanied by a man on a saw back in 2006 at a rare solo outing in Brighton. It is the first song Tim has written on his own, put together on an omni-chord, before being passed to Lee to weave his magic. Its origins make it the simplest song on the album. It’s an unashamed but grounded love song to Tim’s wife Kate, starting from the first moment they met, when on his own admission he knew “I was in trouble”, through to the day to day domesticity that everyone, even internationally recognised musicians, go through at home.
Buried Alive deals with the mundanity of married life, from the viewpoint of a female friend. Familiar to many as the free download from signing up to the mailing list, the album version starts with a twist of some violin and the lyrics have been changed quite substantially from the demo, testimony to the very fluid working methods that this album has been produced with.
Harbour is the first of the three songs co-written with KK, and showcases a soulful side to Tim’s voice over a very simple loop that allows the lyrics to be emphasised without the need to turn up the volume to compete. It covers a love-hate relationship that survives on the adrenalin of the emotions and some of the conflicts within that relationship – “You are my safe harbour, and I am your storm”.
All About Time is the pop moment on the album, even though the sing-along chorus of “Johnny’s on the phone, Johnny’s online, Johnny’s in love, everything’s alive, Johnny thinks it’s all about faith but it’s all about time” doesn’t kick in until nearly two minutes in after Tim has reflected on the pace and soullessness of modern life – “zombies in the shopping mall, heart disconnected from our feet”.
The Point Of Darkness demonstrates exactly why this is a Tim Booth album and not a James album. Tim’s voice is almost acting as an instrument, dictating the pace and mood of the song in a way the rigidity of a seven-piece band doesn’t allow any singer. The song is trying to encourage someone who’s down out of their malaise, the clouds and darkness of the verse replaced by stars and light in the chorus, before the Silverlake Choir join Tim in taking the song to an unexpected crescendo. Recorded with days to go to the album deadline, the choir’s input is vital to the positive note on which the song finishes.
Consequences and Bless Them All are the two centrepieces of the album. The former is another KK co-write and has menacing but understated undertones in the music as Tim sings, again from a female perspective, about the balance between comfort in a relationship and the desire for something different that could tear everything apart (“you’re crossing the line between the thought and deed, there’s consequences”).
The latter is my favourite. Tim’s words feel like they’re a stream of consciousness, made up on the spot, but making complete sense together, an attack on evil forces at work in the world, mocking their ignorance, and how hope and love are the only antidotes. It ends with a crescendo of the choir with the chorus as Tim sings over the top about love, war, terror and natural disaster. It is the defining moment of Love Life.
Monsters is plain off the wall. The title is an intriguing one, as its nearest lineage is the James’ song Of Monsters And Heroes And Men, but this is the twisted and deranged version of the story, fraught with fear and paranoia from dark places – “With my blood he wrote AND, He wrote, EVE, He wrote, GOD. He wrote, LOVE, he wrote EVIL backwards”. Again, the music complements the lyrics wonderfully – there’s a chemistry between Lee and Tim that was evident on Bone, but it fits together so naturally on this album.
From the insanity of Monsters, Do Yourself A Favour is a gentle comedown. It’s a plea from an infatuated lover to their partner to let themselves go, take a risk and dive into their relationship.
Shatters muses on one of Tim’s favourite subject matters. The verses are almost read rather than sung, telling the story of finding oneself in a post-apocalyptic messed-up situation, before bursting into the chorus which turns pain, loss and disaster into experiences that bring people love, understanding and allows them to grow.
The final song, Gloria Descends, is a true life story, also reflected in one of Tim’s writings he premiered at last year’s Latitude festival, of the feelings he experienced last year when he nearly drowned on holiday.
Love Life ultimately succeeds where an album seven years in the making has no right to. Where you expect it to be disjointed because of the recording process, it makes perfect sense. It works together from start to finish and it is ultimately defined by the very special chemistry between Tim and Lee, as Lee lets Tim roam free over the music without losing his own personality in the mix, it’s a very neat trick. Whilst immediately accessible, it gives you something new on every listen.
It’s not a Tim Booth solo album, it’s very definitely not a James-lite album, it is however the best album you’re likely to hear this year.
This is an album that you feel Booth needed to make. It is not just a worthy successor to ‘Bone’, it actually surpasses it. As to whether ‘Love Life’ is an instruction or an insight, well, it’s actually a little of both and much else besides. But don’t take my word for it, do yourself a favour and have a listen. The consequences will be wonderful.