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#274 James @ Birmingham Barclaycard Arena (May 20th 2016)

Support: Jack Savoretti

I love this band. I love that they were formed all the way back in 1982 and hired some guy called Tim to be a dancer. I love that said dancer became the lead singer. I love that they appear to be more creative now than ever before. I love that they have just had a number two studio album (only beaten to the top spot by Adele) and I love that they are awkward Mancunians and damn proud of it. As I said...I love this band...

James at Birmingham Barclaycard Arena May 20th 2016  Tim Booth Crowd Surfing

James at Birmingham Barclaycard Arena May 20th 2016

Tim Booth Crowd Surfing

The aforementioned awkwardness was in existence from the off tonight. In all their time together they have only ever played two greatest hits tours so no one should have expected any different here. Indeed so confident are they in their new material that they start with five tracks from the new album. Not many would be able to do that...but then not many would have just produced one of their finest albums after three decades together.

Opening with To My Surprise ("...were you just born an asshole...") and following with Move Down South it was clear who in the crowd was going to be shouting for Laid and who wasn't. No matter. When James, and Booth in particular, are so on form they really could play anything. It helps when they have a lead singer who seems to be in his prime. Quite odd for a 56 year old. Three crowd surfs tonight. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The first 'classic' song arrives twenty minutes in with Ring the Bells followed by the always glorious Sometimes (still singing it now). We're Going to Miss You live is equally glorious and saw Tim make his way into the seating area at the side of the arena. Before that we get Dear John which is fast becoming a live favourite and also a great break up song (..."I wrote this song to tell you I'm leaving..."). They go acoustic for She's a Star and What For and during Curse Curse Tim does the third of his crowd surfs with a mixture of delight and fear etched on his face.

James at Birmingham Barclaycard Arena May 20th 2016  James on Stage

James at Birmingham Barclaycard Arena May 20th 2016

James on Stage

Sound is its usual wall of sound this time including Andy Diagram, on lit up trumpet, play in the crowd high up in the stands. Quite strange seeing him play there whilst people walked by him carrying beers on their way to their seats. The end of the song is met with loud applause and Tim points out that most bands would go off for an encore at that point. Not so James. Instead they play one of the stand out songs from the new album, Attention

The three song encore consists of Fred Astaire before yet again the band show their faith in the new material. 2014's Moving On is possibly their finest moment on record and they close the night with another, Nothing But Love. 

As it turned out this was to be the last gig of the tour as Booth suffered a throat infection the next day meaning they had to cancel the Nottingham date. A sad way to end a great tour but this has been an outstanding year so far with more still to come.

Not everyone is happy that they didn't get to hear Sit Down or Laid but this is James. Awkward yes but they never stand still. Always looking forward. I love this band...did I mention that?

Ticket: May 20th 2016 / Wrist Band

Ticket Price: ¬£37.50

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