Those occasions when your favourite bands play festival gigs but are not headlining or indeed in the top three or four acts on stage can be a little awkward. The atmosphere can vary widely between no one even looking at the stage to the serious fans at the front. For that reason I didn’t get tickets for the Oxegen festival this year even though I had a great time for the one day in 2008. In truth I felt that there wasn’t enough in the line-up to tempt me to go. James were the only band that would have got me there but when the lads announced this show then I knew that I wouldn’t bother.
Very much billed as an Oxegen warm up show (coming just two days before they played the festival) meant tonight was always going to be a night which would be fun and for the fans. And so it proved with the Academy crowd squeezed into the venue ready for Manchester’s finest. Arriving on stage to a hero's welcome they started with old favourite Johnny Yen before playing outstanding newer song Upside (from the magnificent 2008 Hey Ma album).
The fifteen song set continued to mix the old with the new with even the very first airing of Shine which would be included on the first of two mini albums to be released in 2010. It’s always great to hear brand new songs from your favourite bands and to be the first to hear it at a gig feels kind of special. Personal favourite Getting Away With It was mid set. To say I just adore that song is an understatement. It is by no means their biggest hit but over the years it really has become a live favourite and a band theme song in many ways.
Finishing with Sound, Tomorrow, Sit Down, Sometimes and Laid was very much a crowd pleasing way to end but it really seemed perfect for this gig. The feel good factor went up a few notches but then it usually does at all James gigs.
As always a joy to watch, listen to and experience live, it is great that we have James back firing on all cylinders and full of enthusiasm once again.
Ticket: July 8th 2009
Ticket Price: €30.00