Never a band to take it easy, Manchester legends James have had a busy 2019 so far; from taking on the mammoth task of supporting themselves with an acoustic set each night of their March tour, to their recent co-headline tour across America and Canada with The Psychedelic Furs. With frontman Tim Booth recently tweeting that the band would be going on hiatus from October, last weekend saw the band play their last UK date of 2019; headlining Bingley Weekender.
Notorious for their live shows, James nailed their intro with the double whammy of ‘Waltzing Along’ and ‘Ring The Bells’ – both sparking mass singalongs that are often only present in encores! Several floor toms were then brought to the stage for use by Tim, Bassist Jim Glennie, Trumpeter Andy Diagram and Multi-instrumentalist Saul Davies as they crashed into the politically charged ‘Hank’ from their latest album, ‘Living In Extraordinary Times’. The album recently celebrated its first birthday and it was clear to see the crowd’s love and adoration for it as they sang along to every word of ‘What’s It All About’, whilst Tim prowled across the front of the stage, forever pondering a trip into the sea of people stood in awe of him.
Things then took an emotive turn as the band delivered ‘Tomorrow’, the heart-warming ‘Just Like Fred Astaire’, a full-band version of ‘She’s a Star’ and a mind-blowing rendition of ‘Five-O’. Beginning with a hauntingly beautiful extended violin solo from Saul, ‘Five-O’ slowed things down as the band combined their many talents to create a sublime explosion of creativity. The poignant ‘Moving On’ – lifted by Andy’s arcing trumpet – followed before the band returned to their new material; ‘Leviathan’ and ‘Many Faces’. Both have earned reputations as crowd favourites, but ‘Many Faces’ in particular is always a gig highlight; reducing many people to tears and putting a smile on every band members face whilst the crowd joined in with the chorus as it repeated towards the end; “there’s only one human race, many faces, everybody belongs here.”
James change their sets nightly and are far from a greatest hits band, so it was surprising to see so many hits within their setlist, particularly when they launched into the anthemic ‘Sit Down’ – inclusive of the extra verse. When the band were coming to the end of the set, Tim explained that they only had time for one more song, before treating the crowd to their ‘unofficial theme song’; ‘Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)’. Luckily, the Police gave the Manchester icons permission for two more songs, with Tim wittily joking that he didn’t know why Sting had anything to do with it. The King’s of writing setlists of course delivered once again as they ended with the synth siren fuelled ‘Come Home’ and the irresistibly catchy ‘Laid’ – both resulting in joyous singalongs and a crowd of all ages, dancing their socks off.
There are just a couple of shows in Madrid and Porto left before the band’s hiatus and based on their headline set at Bingley Weekender, they’re sure to be special ones. With another album on the way, it’s an exciting time as ever to be a James fan and we’re looking forward to seeing what’s waiting for us down the line!