Record signings can be awkward affairs. Excited fans queuing for ages* for that chance to meet their heroes. In return the artist in question sits down, pen in hand, looking tired, bored and a little fed up at trying to be nice to all their 'Number One Fans'. Fans who own every record they have ever released and who met their partner at a gig of theirs back in 1982...
Ok so James didn't look bored nor fed up. They did though look tired. No surprise after a full day of promo activities (I don't blame guitarist Larry Gott for taking some time out). Yet despite the whirlwind nature of these things James somehow manage to be magnificent.
When James (minus David, Andy and Larry, with the latter replaced by Adrian Oxall) wander on stage the first thing you notice is Tim's headgear. Seriously Tim. What self respecting 56 year old man wears such a thing? Yet being Tim Booth he somehow pulls off the look...but then lead singers have been getting away with fashion murder for many a year.
They joke about death and they welcome us to the past...but James are no nostalgia act. They play four new songs. Dear John should be a warning to all ("I wrote this song to tell you I'm leaving"), Girl at the End of the World here is a beautiful rendition of the album's title track. Feet of Clay ("I keep falling...") is next up before new single Nothing But Love finishes the short set. Love is a joyous song. It should be huge...but in these throwaway days probably won't dent the top 100. No matter; the album it is from, and the reason we are here, is a cracker and is splendid confirmation of the near decade long reunion of a band first formed 34 years ago.
We were told the band had a train to catch and so there would be no selfies as it would take too long. I for one was delighted with this. My previous attempts at this new horrendous fad have gone horribly wrong (I may post a selection one day for your delight). We did though get in line to get our records signed and so formed a (sort of) orderly queue.
Saul was first in line to sign our records. Good choice. He is certainly the most comfortable (at least on the surface) with these things and was in great form. Always the joker our Saul. When he signed our CD (myself and my wife had bought one between us**) he told us that when we got divorced we would have an argument as to who would keep it. Good point (I've hidden it...just in case). Mark was his usual shy, smart, suited self, then Tim. It felt like an audience with the Pope. The guy has an aura. I mumbled something stupid. He smiled kindly. I moved on. Jim and Adrian completed the signings and that was that. Excellent. I was a happy man.
I love these guys. I am seeing them twice more in May and I wouldn't bet against me going to more. Please don't go away any time soon lads. The world is a better place with you in it and you have much more music to make.
* Esecially the awesomely lovely Nicola. A lifelong fan of the band who we met in the queue. She was desperate to meet Tim and drove all the way from Newcastle just to see them. She got her picture in the end after bumping into Tim outside after the event. Well done girl.
** I have also bought the record on LP, another CD & cassette...yes cassette...Number One Fan?
Ticket: March 18th 2016
Ticket Price: Free