Six years on from breaking my James cherry in this very venue, I shelled out for my second James VIP experience. Normal price tickets were set at €24.40 which is quite astonishing value for a band together thirty years and with such a back catalogue. Admittedly the VIP tickets were €73.00 but for the extra €48.60 we got to see the soundcheck (Play Dead, What's The World and Monsters), ask questions (Nope I chickened out), get an exclusive gift (Ok it was only a notebook with a James logo on…but still), get a VIP souvenir laminate (it has the date and venue on so I love it) and get priority early entry to the venue (We got front row).
I love seeing a band like this soundcheck. Getting such an insight is something incredibly rewarding for a fan boy like me. I didn’t have the balls to ask any questions during the Q&A though. I always think they must have been asked the same questions a million times. Is there anything I can ask that will be a bit different?? Shame on me for not coming up with one though, although hearing questions like ‘why don’t you play insertname of unreleased track from 1982’ because I think it is brilliant?’ should be avoided as we all know that those are asked simply to show off that particular fans knowledge. There is always a bigger nerd afterall. I have to admit though the questions tonight were really good and the band seemed pleased (well Saul was desperate for a smoke so fucked off but hey we can forgive him that) and gave good answers while stirring a few memories of days (and vans) past…
I briefly raided the merchandise stall for the obligatory shirt followed by a quick pint and then back in to get right to the front. At this point the Mrs was slightly concerned as she had memories of 2008’s Manchester gig. On that occasion she had decided that she didn’t want to be in ‘the middle of a load of blokes in their thirties trying to relive their youth’ and so moved away leaving me to mosh to my heart’s content. She was relieved that here she could cling to the front barrier and not worry too much about getting knocked over or elbowed in the face.
The set lists vary at James gigs which is always a good thing. Here by opening up with Oh My Heart and Waterfall from 2008’s Hey Ma (The wife’s favourite James album), then going back to Seven, then How Was It For You?, then jamming a stunning Jam J, then showcasing two brand new songs (Interrogation and Moving On), then back to PS…well, James sure know how to do things their way.
This is a band made up of seven unique talents and in Tim Booth they have one hell of a front man. Tonight he climbs into the mosh pit during an epic Born Of Frustration (how he manages to keep on singing while fans slap his bald head I really dont know. Note - I too am a member of the bald club...we gotta look out for each other). On the way back to the stage I even got to help him back over the barrier…which pleased my inner geekness no end. Alas it remains true that many friends of mine only know this band for one song. By playing that song mid set is another show of strength from an extremely confident band. Sit Down remains a crowd favourite of course and the response tonight genuinely lights the bands faces. Monsters and Five-O are next before they take us all the way back with a cracking version of Stutter.
Getting Away With It(All Messed Up) was our wedding three years ago (which confused the parents) and is ourfavourite James track (yes we are allowed a joint favourite song so shut up). It is that song that starts the lead in to the end of the main set and is followed by Tomorrow and Laid. It was during this time that I turned around and looked at the scene behind me. The Olympia was jumping as one from top to bottom. Fabulous.
What way do you start an encore after finishing the main set on such a high? In James world they play another new song. For some bands that would kill the mood but when you have such confidence in your new material as James have then they just go for it...and the crowd goes with them. Let’s not forget what a creative force this band is. This is not a greatest hits touring band. They never were. They have always done things the James way. By the way the new song is called Curse Curse and if it isn’t a hit (whatever that means these days) then I will chew my left testicle off. With a catchy chorus in true James style then it deserves to be huge...
They finish with Come Home and an extended Sound. The latter includes an extra long section of jamming for the hell of it (even surprising Tim) in doing so breaking the Olympia curfew. Good lads.
I love this band so much yet strangely it was 1999 before I took notice of them. Before that I had only heard Sit Down (about a million times) but had just presumed them another Indie ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’ outfit. How wrong I was.
I really went for full fan boy mode tonight and wanted to check a few boxes to make sure I can continue in the category of ‘Music Nerd’:
- Attend VIP pre gig Soundcheck – check
- Make front row – check
- Get copy of Set List - check
- Wait for band member after gig – check
- Get band member to sign acquired Set List – check (Thanks Larry)
- Get picture taken with band member – check
- Still have ringing in the ears the day after - hell yer
I was delighted with myself after all that…alas later when I actually looked at the picture I realised it will never see the light of day. It was an atrocious effort in which I had half a head and Larry was blurred…ah well...maybe next time.
Ticket Price: €73 (VIP Ticket)
Soundcheck: Play Dead / What's The World / Monsters