A must see reformation
Bands have always split and then reformed years later, but in 2007 it seems to be more noticeable than usual. Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against the Machine, The Police, Crowded House and the Jesus and Mary Chain to name just a few are all back in some way, and so too are Manchester Indie legends James.
"It's great to be back, we didn't think it would happen," Tim Booth told the crowd at the second of two sold out nights at Brixton Academy. A simple line that summed up how both band and fans feel about this reunion tour.
James played for over an hour and a half and, as you would expect, it was a set dominated by classics from the nineties part of their career, although for the real die-hards there was a significant part of the night given to smaller hits and the odd album track as well.
Rhythmic clapping from a packed venue greeted the band on stage, as they launched into the 1990 anthem 'Come Home'. This was followed by 'Destiny Calling' and 'Ring My Bell', a track which received as big a reaction as any of the hits despite not being as well-known to the casual fan as some that would appear later.
Just as you could be forgiven for turning into the Churchill Dog as classic intro after classic intro was blasted out..."Ooooor yes!", the band played a succession of great tracks that don't fall into the big hit category. As well as songs like 'Out To Get You' we got a couple of new songs including forth-coming single 'Who Are You'. It's difficult to judge any possible new direction in sound from one gig, however although unmistakably James, there's a more rock edge to the music they're writing now.
In truth the standard of new material wasn't the main priority for this crowd though, they were here to enjoy the hits, and hits they got by the truckload as the night wore on. 'Getting Away With It', 'Sometimes' and 'Tomorrow' were all massive, but, as you might expect, there was one that really took the roof off. The band milked the intro of 'Sit Down' for all it was worth, waiting for the right moment to turn the Brixton faithful into a mass of jumping, shouting bodies.
The encore that followed featured 'Gold Mother', the title track of the album that gave us 'Come Home' and 'Sit Down', 'Waltzing Along' and 'Laid', with the last word left for a slightly stripped down, but no less effective version of 'She's A Star'.
Watching a gig and the resulting reaction like this, especially for the likes of 'Sit Down' and 'She's A Star', you can't help but wonder what it must be like being in James right now. When they called it a day it seemed the perfect point to draw a line under their career and enjoy the music and memories that they had left us with. Sometimes bands can destroy this legacy by coming back, not quite living up to how things used to be and going through the motions to boost a dwindling bank balance. The James come back tour couldn't be further from this, for those that have seen them many times before were raving about this gig rating it as one of their finest.
There's an updated 'Best Of' due complete with the obligatory new track and anyone who hasn't scratched beneath the surface of their back catalogue would be well advised to get a copy. James are lined up for T in the Park and V, and on the strength of this night, they're right up there with the Smashing Pumpkins as one of the must see reformations of 2007.