London Brixton Academy, 19th April 2013 (video)

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Waltzing Along, Seven, How Was It For You, Sound, Dream Thrum, English Beefcake, Interrogation, Sit Down, She’s A Star, Of Monsters And Heroes And Men, Fire So Close, Just Like Fred Astaire, We’re Going To Miss You, Five-O, Moving On, Born Of Frustration, Come Home, Medieval, Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), Sometimes, Laid, Tomorrow.

Review by One Of The Three

First night of two in London and these types of double header show are always interesting set-list wise as the band always want to put on a different show each night. This will often lead to some less familiar songs in the set, which can test the audience. So let’s get this out of the way. I’ve never heard Tim tell an audience to shut up before and he stops Fire So Close to tell them to, and then ask if they’re the sort of people who’d film themselves having sex on the iphone rather than enjoying it. Saul adds something a bit more direct. But the crowd tonight is fairly awful in parts, you can hear the chatter above all of the quieter songs, and it’s not just the paying punters, there’s a security guard who seems to ignore her duties for most of the evening to talk loudly to a bloke she’s trying to chat up and responding to a request to not talk so loud by telling us we’re not at the theatre. We only wanted to hear the conversation about good shopping the woman in the yellow wristband was having behind her, for god’s sake.

Right rant over. The band themselves fought against that wall of noise with their usual defiance of playing by the conventions. Sure they ended the set by rolling out big guns like Born Of Frustration and Come Home before the encore and Getting Away With It, Sometimes, Laid and Tomorrow during it, which finally shuts people up and has the whole place buzzing, especially when Tim bellyflops gracefully over the crowd during Sometimes. However, the rest of the set is designed to challenge an audience, two new songs which sound more like they’ll deliver on a continued legacy when the new album comes early next year and a beautiful poignant English Beefcake.. I’ve gone on about the reworked Waltzing Along enough already, the curtailed sleeker Sound and the welcome return of How Was It For You. The middle section sees the Manchester Consort Choir return to support James and when you can hear it, they sound stunning, some beautiful harmonies on She’s A Star and Just Like Fred Astaire, adding to the build and menace of Monsters and giving that extra lift to Fire So Close and We’re Going To Miss You. Apart from some horrific bass feedback during Dream Thrum, the sound is good and the it’s great to see so much interaction with the band on stage – Jim, Andy and Saul huddled together for the intro to Five-O, Andy on his knees waving his tambourine up towards Larry, Tim standing on Dave’s drum riser at one point.

Tonight will be interesting. The sensible response to the crowd issues tonight would be to play a safe set, full of crowd-pleasers, but you sense James will go the other way. They’re not a band that just churns out their hits, they would be half the band they are if that’s what they did. This was the least enjoyable gig of the tour so far, but not because of them.

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