Setlist : Sound, Born of Frustration, Heavens, Hymn From A Village, Goalie’s Ball, Maria, Live A Love Of Life, Come Home, Next Lover, Lose Control, Stripmining, Say Something, Johnny Yen, Ring The Bells, God Only Knows, How Was It For You?, What’s The World, America, Seven, Gold Mother, Stutter, Sit Down
Review by Pete McGrath, Sounds
Not just a concert, more an event in itself – James at Alton Towers, the capital city of family fun, England’s own EuroDisney, only here blockaded by 30,000 pop pickers rather than a few hundred truckers. As bemused families made their way to the exits after a hard day’s queueing, in swarmed thousands of youngsters and not-so youngsters in James T-shirts. The rain came and ensured that Alton Towers own hooded plastic bin liners became almost as vital fashion accessory as the t-shirts, but this was always going to be an event that nothing could dampen. Not the rain, not Tim Booth’s croaky voice, nor even the fact the roof of the stage blew off at 4pm, threatening the whole concert, and causing the cancellation of Galliano’s support slot.
And so to James. As a band, they haven’t really changed over the years. Songs from the days of apathy, bad luck and near splits, such as “What’s The World”, “Johnny Yen” and “Hymn From A Village” fitted perfectly alongside the successful material of the last eighteen months, (“Sit Down”, “Come Home”, “How Was It For You”, “Sound”, “Born of Frustration” etc.) The only difference between James way back then and James today is that they are now the darlings of serious pop fans all over the country, and officially approved by fabulous Radio 1 FM. James have taken this rollercoaster ride to fame with ease, so it would seem, and a huge gig in a rollercoaster park has perhaps always been their destiny. The only dark cloud for me, other than the rain clouds above, was the premonition which came to me during their slower LP “filler” tracks. All of a sudden, James became dull open air concert troubadours on a Simple Minds scale. Absent songs such as “What For”, “Ya Ho” and “If Things Were Perfect” would have made the performance complete and caused non-stop rather than fragmented delirium for the crowd.
As the firework display ended it all. It was clear that this was an event about which people could say “I was there”. But so too was James at Scumbag College Union in nineteen eighty something when less than two hundred turned up. Let’s hope my premonition is mistaken and that James never change.