Portland Wonder Ballroom – 8th October 2010

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Sit Down, Seven, Ring The Bells, Dust Motes, PS, Tell Her I Said So, It’s Hot, Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), She’s A Star, Jam J, I Wanna Go Home, Top of the World, Crazy, Stutter, Tomorrow, Laid, Out To Get You, Heavens, Say Something, Sometimes.

Review by BRD

Tonight is another one of those nights where James just sweep the audience off their feet with the power and enthusiasm of their performance. Not that the Portland crowd needed a lot to win them over; they were getting quite restless in their wait by the time James entered the small stage. A bit after 10pm Andy surprises everyone as he kicks off the night when he does a trumpet salute to Sit Down from the front of the mini balcony at the back of the hall as Larry does a long acoustic intro from the floor ie the Full Royal Albert Hall treatment.

Eventually, Tim, ever the showman in a big fuzzy hat, faux muscle shirt and gold sparkly harem pants, eventually appears atop the basement bar entrance singing away. All of James join in mid-song bringing the audience to a frenzy which doesn’t diminish for the rest of the night. Much to Portland’s delight, James proceed through the greatest hits catalogue, checking off Ring the Bell, Laid, She’s A Star, Tomorrow and a shorter than usual version of the set closer Sound, with Andy’s extended trumpet solo. To keep things interesting, a handful of little known songs are thrown in such as Jam J lead by Jim’s distorted bass line; band favorite from Hey Ma, I Wanna Go Home, which summarizes life on tour; and the thunderous Stutter with it’s perfect three drummer close. To really keep us guessing, James do the reflective Top of the World, the last song they performed live when they broke up in 2001, in the middle of the set. They continue to frustrate, doing only four songs off their two 2010 mini-albums. The two biographical songs they do do standout: Tell Her I Said So about life in an old age home, which was co-written by Tim’s 90 year old Mum, and features a great full band and audience choir; and Crazy, Tim’s self assessment before his liver ailment was diagnosed.

Ever the contrarians, James start the encore with the contemplative Out To Get You, featuring Larry’s great slide guitar and Saul’s gut wrenching closing violin solo which drives the audience off the cliff in a frenzy of emotion. Then out of the blue, the band launch into the long lost and lovely Heavens off of Seven, which in retrospect seems to be a premonition of events to come. Breathtaking.

James seal the deal with Say Something and the extended audience singalong which Sometimes has become.

Due to curfew restrictions the night comes to a close despite the crowd’s passionate protests. And a near perfect night it was!

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