James – Live Review – Doncaster Racecourse

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James – Live Review

Doncaster Racecourse, August 2019

by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab

When James are performing, they do it on their terms. They change up the set list and they dig deep in to their back catalogue. They pull out a show geared towards the committed James fan, with a few hits sprinkled in for good measure.

So, I did wonder what they’d do for their show at Doncaster races at the end of a Saturday race day. After all, they’d likely be playing to scores of people who, after a day watching the gee-gees, would be a little bit raucous and worse for wear. And perhaps just waiting for ‘Sit-Down’?

Thousands of revellers had converged towards the stage after the final race had finished. And to be fair it was a crowd who were more in joyful spirits than had consumed far too many spirits. Don’t get me wrong, people were drunk (more drunk than Scotland if you asked Tim Booth) but the atmosphere was good. Really good.

“A bona-fide James crowd”

And true to their unmistakable selves, James put a set together that wouldn’t be made in to a Greatest Hits album. More a playlist to be devoured by their hardcore followers.

Entering the fray with ‘Nothing But Love’ followed up by ‘Hank’, there were a few faces wondering ‘What’s It All About?’ Which, coincidentally, was song three.  But I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people around me who were singing along to these lesser-known tunes.

Perhaps we had a bona-fide James crowd in after all.

A sunny day had played it’s part in a feel good evening, and having James’ unique sound as part of it meant things just came together perfectly. And the band were having a great time too.

“Singalong territory”

‘Waltzing Along’ was the first of the more mainstream tunes they gave us, with ‘She’s a Star’ and ‘Come Home’ prompting Doncaster’s glamourous ladies and suited and booted gents in to singalong territory.

There was stagediving a plenty from frontman Booth. I counted him leaving the stages and joining us at least three times in their amazing 15 song set. Andy Diagram did his bit too, appearing in the grandstand with his trumpet in full flow.

I’ve been to a number of James gigs. Indoor, and outdoor – and they’re a genius band whether we have a roof or not.

‘Many Faces’ perhaps didn’t have the same influence on the crowd as it has when they’ve played it on tour.  But the crowd were in their element when we were given ‘Sit Down’. But it got even better when ‘Laid’ also came out as the final song in the same main set.  This pleased me a lot too. I’ve never had both of those songs in the same set before. So, the racecourse gig that I was unsure about will forever have a place in the memory.

James Doncaster 2019

“One of the best live bands on the planet”

The crowd weren’t finished though. They’d loved James, they wanted more and the band didn’t let them down. A brilliant four-song encore followed and carried us right through to the early evening.

‘Out to Get You’ and ‘Attention’ were played. And they ended on a huge bang with ‘Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)’ and ‘Sometimes (Lester Piggot)’ – the euphoric song with a racing beat (hence the humorous subtitle which also echoes their early obsession with the tax dodging jockey way back in the early 90s).

So. James had come to a racecourse and absolutely delivered. I never really doubted they would, but I wasn’t sure the band and the venue would mix. But it mixed. And it just gave me more evidence as to why James are one of the best live bands on the planet.

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