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.