Chicago Vic Theatre – 25th September 2008

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Dream Thrum, She’s A Star, Oh My Heart, Waterfall, Ring The Bells, Hey Ma, Bubbles, Say Something, Five-O, I Wanna Go Home, Out To Get You, Upside, Whiteboy, Laid, Sit Down, Sound, Top Of The World, Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), Sometimes.

Review by BRD

Ah, another sold-out James show, this time in the historic Vic Theater in the tiny Lincoln Park neighbourhood of north Chicago. Though the venue is roughly the same capacity as the James show at Toronto’s Phoenix the other night, but the stage is far larger, roughly the dimensions of London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, allowing James to stretch out and run amuck. We arrive just in time to catch opening act Amy McDonald, from Scotland, who is a real spark live.

At roughly 8:40 James hit the stage to another warm reception – you’d think they were long lost friends who had reappeared after a ten year absence. To keep things fresh the band turn the setlist Upside down from the previous night – putting in 5 different songs and rearranging the running order of a number of the repeat songs. Not content to leave it at that, they re-arrange and truncate Sound as well. Its hard to find another band that is halfways as flexible and inventive as James are with setlists.

Andy is on this evening, whether its his great accompanying vocals in I Wanna Go Home, or trumpet work in Bubbles. Tim is a bit petulant tonight though – chastising the audience for not shutting up during his attempt at an extended silent break towards the end of Upside. Everyone makes up by the time Tim appears in a balcony box to sing encore opener Top of the World – always a set stopper this one.

The audience tonight seems to really get off on the older songs, whether its Ring The Bells or singing along to the chorus of Sit Down. And no matter which city it is, Out To Get You just brings the house down in pieces; amazing how that old chestnut continually makes that emotional connection with the crowd. Suprisingly, Hey Ma doesn’t seem to do much for the crowd tonight even though we’re in Barack Obama’s adopted hometown.

Saul as always is inspiring, whether its his great violin work in Top of the World, or taking over the vocal chorus of night closer Sometimes. And before we know it, in under two hours its over for the night! James always come and go too quickly!

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