James – Live Review – Scarborough Open Air Theatre
James – Live Review
Scarborough Open Air Theatre, August 2018
by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab
The 2018 season at Scarborough Open Air Theatre came to a close this weekend, with one of the UK’s most gifted and original bands bringing the curtain down.
Without fail, James always deliver a show you don’t forget. And one you can’t predict. With an enormous back catalogue of tunes, they’re not a band who are just happy to churn out the hits and give you something “nice”.
The standing area was packed. Absolutely packed. The flower t-shirt adorned hardcore were in brilliant spirits, and the atmosphere was superb.
Tim Booth and the boys came on-stage at 9pm, and started their 16 song set with ‘Extraordinary Times’; the kind of title track to their new album ‘Living In Extraordinary Times’. It was powerful, thumping start, followed by more of the same with the politically charged ‘Hank’.
It set a bit of a precedent for this gig. Many songs from the new album had made tonight’s setlist, and the classics and more established tunes would be sprinkled in here and there. ‘Sound’, from 1992 album ‘Seven’ drew huge cheers. And it was performed as exquisitely as it has ever been. That, and ‘Getting Away With It (all messed up)’ floated through the evening air.
With so many instrumentalists in the band, it gives the band quite a musical pallet to take live songs to the extreme, or at least tinker with them. The acoutsic version of ‘Sit Down’ was sweet and this, my fifth James gig, was building up to be the best one yet.
Tim Booth is more than just the band’s front man. He’s a spokesperson, and a tale teller. Between songs he entertains and intrigues us with the things he had to say, and led us nicely in to each song.
We were treated to ‘Coming Home (Pt 2)’ which was beautiful. Dedicated to people who are away from their families for a long time, you got a personal, emotional message from the band.
“Tim Booth wouldn’t be Tim Booth if he didn’t do something Tim Booth”
‘Many Faces’, a swipe at Donald Trump, went down well. As Booth looked out with admiration, the crowd took over the chorus for a good two minutes. It was a nice moment. You get these feelings of unity at a James gig. It was a stunning moment.
Now, this is a James gig. And Tim Booth wouldn’t be Tim Booth if he didn’t do something Tim Booth. As he stage dived in to the crowd during ‘How Was It For You’ he wasn’t in a rush to get back. He sailed all the way across the standing area, making his way halfway up the seating section. He had to tell the band to change the setlist so he could sing ‘Come Home’ whilst he headed back to the stage. We all loved it, and if the moat was still there, no doubt he’d have swam across to us.
No encores tonight. With so many songs to cram in to the 90 minute set, the band didn’t want to waste the few minutes going off and coming back on again. I wish more bands did this. And as the show drew to a close, they played my favourite song ‘Tomorrow’, and ended on ‘Sometimes’.
The crowd had loved James. Scarbrough was on fire with passion and love. But ‘Laid’, sadly, hadn’t made the set list, and it was the one everyone was crying out for. We weren’t going to be beaten though! An on-going rendition of the song was sang loudly and proudly by us as we left the Open Air Theatre.
A fantastic gig by a fantastic band, and a superb way to end the 2018 season in Scarborough. James never, ever let you down, and tonight was no exception.
Images: Cuffe & Taylor, and Steve Crabtree