The day had started badly for James with a disappointing experience on the One Show. After being interviewed they were asked to sing a 2 minute version of Sit Down instead of new song Moving On (as Tim later said on stage it was more like an advert for Sit Down than the song itself). This was a missed opportunity for the BBC as Moving On is a sublime track (with a stunning video) and as much as I love Sit Down we don’t particularly need to hear it on TV again. Luckily it didn’t stop the band being in flying form at Camden’s Electric Ballroom.
Warm up gigs can be strange affairs. A band getting back in to playing live, especially playing brand new songs, can mean for a stop / start show. No such concerns here…this was a chance for James to play new material live for the first time…and when a band has the upmost confidence in that material then there really is nothing to worry about.
They opened with the first new track of the night, Walk Like You. A slow building song it not only opened proceedings but is also the first song on the new album (available in all good record shops from Monday…). The quality of the bands back catalogue means they can play widely changing sets but if there is one song that is a must it’s Laid. Tonight they played a storming version (is there any other kind?) with Tim doing his usual ‘worrying the security guard moment’ by getting into the crowd. Johnny Yen and Waltzing Along are up next and it was clear that the band along with the 1000 strong crowd were in the mood for a great night.
New songs Frozen Britain and Quicken the Dead sound good with the latter a song about embracing death (cheerful as ever) and the former being familiar as the first released song back in February. Come Home, Tomorrow and Jam J (including some glorious Booth dancing) are three standouts early on before we get more new songs with Bitter Virtue, All I’m Saying and Interrogation which were all especially good live here. Particularly impressive was Interrogation which sat well among the older classics in the middle of the set. Sound and Sometimes were excellent as per norm with the former being one of the few songs that gets me doing any sort of dance (I still manage to not move my feet though)…and the latter providing the chance for a crowd sing-along (always enjoyable even though I can’t sing for my life).
Moving On closed the main set and was the highlight of the evening. It is already a James classic and should be in the James set from here on in. It really is a superb song, sung and played perfectly tonight. As Larry asked ‘How do you follow that?’. Well they encored firstly with Say Something before final new song (and hopefully new single) Curse Curse is belted out (a song about listening to the people in the hotel room next door have sex...too much time on the road eh lads?). That is a song that we could be hearing a lot of in the future as it has the hallmarks of some of the best James singles. The band finish with their ‘theme song’ (and Dado and Mrs Rock's first dance at our wedding)…Getting Away With It. Leaving the stage for what I thought was the end the band came back again for a second encore (after a longer than normal break with even the house lights having coming on). They set us on our way with the always moving Top Of The World.
Cleary the producers of The One Show are stuck in the past which is something this band definitely aren’t. This is a band reborn, reinvigorated, and re-energised. If you didn’t know different you would think they are a young group of lads starting out (well ok the lack of hair gives it away). They have so many fresh ideas, so many stand out new tracks that it is hard to imagine they have been around since time began. There can’t have been many 'reunions' that have been so successful. No greatest hits again and again and again. 2008’s Hey Ma started it. I love that album and would love to hear some of its tracks on tour later in the year however it is the new songs from La Petite Mortthat have seen the band step up yet another level and prove there is much more to come from one of Britain's finest.
Ticket: May 28th 2014
Ticket Price: £32.50