James @ Birmingham Academy, 12th December 2010


So tonight it’s time for a bit of boogying with the stalwarts of 90’s indie dance anthems – James. The Academy is packed out with an eager and enthusiastic audience, even though it is incredibly warm. But for the first time, the sound is actually much improved and James, thoroughly enjoying their return, intend to give the audience exactly what they looking for.

Surprisingly, James were formed way back in ’82. After struggling for success and at times being totally skint, success finally came with the release of ‘Gold Mother’ in ‘90, with a subsequent series of hits. The most successful ‘Sit Down’, re-worked from its original ’88 version, made #2 in the charts in ’91.


Lead singer Tim Booth left in 2001 and returned in 2007 to tour and record new albums; including 2008‘s ‘Hey Ma’. This year, James released two mini EPs: ‘The Morning After.’ and ‘The Night Before’.

Third song in and we’re treated to a rousing edition of ‘Born of Frustration’. Booth states later in the set that the band rotate through a set list of 54 songs, pretty much what they fancy playing on the night, and tonight, includes a song they play so rarely Booth gets the lyric sheet out.

Then follows an acoustic “Sit Down” with the house lights on full blast and the crowd singing every word.

Booth is a charismatic, articulate, yet serious and entraining frontman, regularly standing on the barriers to overlook the audience and dancing away in a mad dervish. The band clearly is enjoying their renaissance. And as the set goes on, the songs individually get longer, and longer, each one taking the slow build to riotous crescendo.


‘Sound’ got the men in the audience doing a bit of male bonding, went on for nearly ten minutes, then a quite segment (Booth: “This is the point where any sane Band would leave the stage”). From the lighter break, the song’s still going, with full engagement from the crowd, to a raising crescendo. The track went on for nearly fifteen minutes….

Booth: “How to get ourselves out of tight corner…” then onto the oldest track of the night, full on indie repetition with three drummers crashing the drums to an ever faster beat.

And that was the first hour and three quarters, and then to the encore. ‘Out to get you!’ rang out, as an audience member clambered over the balcony onto the main floor below, to a cheer from the crowd – this was another track wound up over seven minutes long.

Next track, “Sometimes”, decided after band conversation – Booth: “That proves we make it up as we go along…” The crowd ALL sing along to EVERY word, with the guitarist encouraging the crowd to continue after it ends, disappearing off to get a camera to film the audience in full flow. Then to the final song “Laid”, with confetti fired from the stage: the entire crowd bounce along to the track.


And then it’s over. A standing ovation from the balconies and full on adulation from the floor.

James are an indie party band, Tim Booth a charismatic frontman, who loves to engage with the audience. Take a look, make sure you have your dancing boots on, and be prepared to spiral dance on, and on, and on, and on and on, and on, and on,….

Set list:
Born of Frustration, It’s Hot, Tell Her I Said So, Runaground, Tomorrow, Getting away with it (All Messed Up), Just Like Fred Astaire, Come Home, Johnny Yen, Ring the Bells, Sound.

Out to Get You


The Morning After (2010)
The Night Before (2010)
Fresh as a Daisy – The Singles (2007)
Gold Mother (1990)

Review – Zyllah Moranne-Brown
Photos – Ian Dunn

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