Friday, 28 November 2014

Review of James at Brixton Academy, London, on November 21, 2014

Sometimes, when I look deep into your eyes, I swear I can see your soul.

Sometimes, when Tim Booth smiles and gazes at the masses chanting those words over and over and over again in the final encore, I swear he must feel like a god.

Sometimes he lowers himself gently into their raised arms, a beautifully singing corpse delivered on by a human tide. Just don't ram your phone in his face for a selfie - he hates that.

Sometimes he dances his fabulous trademark dance, a jerking, neo-Mancunian marionette controlled by Fred Astaire, a salacious grin on his face, puppet strings in one hand, a tumbler of whisky in the other.

Sometimes he'll play new instant classics; Curse Curse, a tequila anthem of frustration that compares messy sex to a Messi goal.

Sometimes he'll play one of the classic classics: Come Home, the only pop song to turn a siren into a symphony; Laid, where the neighbours complain about the noises above but the singalong drowns them out; Hymn From a Village where book-reading is still so much more worthwhile. Ah, you think you're so pretty.

Sometimes there's a majestic fiddler, sometimes there's a bellowing horn blower, sometimes there are two outstanding drummers, sometimes there are none.

Sometimes Tim will stop dead in his tracks and appeal for total silence for a sensitive new song. Fat chance of that in Brixton. He sings an old one instead. Sometimes he puts his hand over his mouth and hollers like Tonto.

Sometimes the middle of a two-hour gig can lose momentum and many dash out to relieve themselves of £5.10 tins of Tuborg (Tuborg!).

Sometimes you leave a show wondering why they didn't play their biggest hit: we were gone, baby, gone with no sight nor sound of Sit Down. Maybe it's over-familiar but I bet Frank Sinatra never missed out My Way.

But I've been watching James live for thirty years now. They've got more songs, less hair and they're still hard to beat.