Guildford Festival – 24th July 1999

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Setlist: Laid, Destiny Calling, She’s A Star, Crash, Sometimes, Just Like Fred Astaire, Johnny Yen, Out To Get You, Someone’s Got It In For Me, Waltzing Along, Tomorrow, We’re Going To Miss You, I Know What I’m Here For, Come Home, Sound, Sit Down.

 

Review by Jim Alexander, NME

But this is what we’re here for – James. They’re playing a greatest hits set, and ‘Laid’, ‘Sound’ and ‘Tomorrow’ sound fine. True, none of them is a patch on a dusted-down and frenzied ‘Johnny Yen’, but at least they haven’t been subjected to the torture they dish out to ‘Sit Down’ – their one true moment of communal resonance. Slowed down and speeded up in all the wrong places, it suggests they have come to detest the golden albatross.

But it’s what they’ve done since the heady days of Madchester that presents the real problems. ‘Destiny Calling’ and ‘She’s A Star’ play coy with a few nods towards dance rhythms, but mainly they just allow Tim Booth a pulpit from which to spin his morally superior sermons and fatuous home truths. Namely, we’re all stars at heart, underneath everyone’s a little bit weird, going home is nice once in a while, and we all like a good sit down now and again. If you’re looking for any greater insight, you’d be better off staying in and consulting your feng shui manuals.

It gets no better with a smattering of new songs unveiled from forthcoming album ‘Millionaires’. ‘Crash’ and ‘Fred Astaire’ (if it’s still called that after the singer’s estate get through with them) are just further bland excuses to allow Booth to dance like a wriggly worm. But they’re nothing compared with the incredibly obnoxious new song introduced as “a victim song – because everybody’s got a victim inside them”. It’s self-help manual rock, a mewling dilution of Radiohead’s bedrock, and quite possibly the worst thing they’ve ever done. Tellingly, Booth announces “we’re very proud of it”.

Towards the end, they throw a mild tantrum over a lack of wine onstage, yet remain as polite as the festival they’re headlining. Their mission to mollify, not challenge their audience, is complete. They know what they’re here for all right, and nothing as coarse as excitement is going to get in their way.

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