Ahhhh... James - my favorite band! I had waited for this concert for a very long time! To be precise 8 months. I had previously seen James in 2014 in London - of course I was mesmerized but for this story I will focus on something else! It was during my not so great period of my life. I had decided I was worth an expensive ticket to watch my favorite band at the Royal Albert Hall (best possible seat available). I bought my ticket and headed to the venue straight after work. Once I got there, a lovely couple asked me if the seat next to me was taken, I said 'No, I came alone'. They responded: ' Well you are not alone anymore'! and within seconds Andy and Steve became my friends! What I didn't know was that they were on their honeymoon - and I crashed it! That's how lovely they are!
Well, fast forward to 2015. Andy told me that James were going to tour again and that he wanted to see them. We booked our tickets for May 2016. We booked the VIP tickets. The whole James experience! We were so looking forward to this concert - I hadn't seen Andy and Steve since the previous concert as they live in the States so it would have been a great reunion. Unfortunately, they couldn't make the trip. Instead of Andy I was now going with another friend that I gave the ticket to. She came from Cambridge to visit me. On the day of the gig, as we waited in the lobby, a sign was posted on the wall. GIG CANCELLED!
It just seemed that it wasn't meant to be! They told us the gig would be rescheduled and we had the option either to hold the tickets or to return them and get a refund. Of course I was not willing to get a refund but wait - as long as I had to - to see James live again.
...and I waited, as previously mentioned, 8 months.
Andy had told me that he would be able to attend the gig in December so our initial plan was on! He booked all his tickets and we were set but something happened again that prevented him from attending. It was just not meant to be. I ended up taking another friend with me.
We got there quite early as we had to assemble for the VIP soundcheck session. Once we were checked in we were led in the concert hall. The band came on stage and welcomed us. They were very casual and very chatty. I had never been to a VIP session before. I found it very interesting that they discussed their process of how they create their music - it really felt as if they were letting us in on their magic and because of that I will not tell you what they said!!! You will have to attend one of their VIP sessions to find out!
What I can tell you is that they also discussed their collaboration with Brian Eno and which songs are their favorites. They said that as a group their favorite song of their current album is 'Attention' (The link is a small video of how they created the song).
They soundchecked a few songs. They said that for Attention they have had some technical issues. The electro part sometimes doesn't go as planned and even though in soundchecks it sounds great at the main gig it sounds like crap! Funny enough, even though the soundcheck did go smooth, they did have issues with that song later that night!
A great moment of the VIP session was watching Tim Booth try to find his own lyrics on his phone. He found the lyrics, and as he read through them, at some point he said ' I didn't write that!'. He found it funny how they changed some of the lyrics and then he would be asked ' what did you mean by that?'. What I also found interesting was that, like most of us, he needs reading glasses but when he realized that we were taking photos he took them off! I managed to take a picture with his glasses on :)
At the end of the session we were given the time to raise some questions. Only two or three questions were asked. It was mostly on their collaboration with Brian Eno and on tours and intimate sessions. They did talk about how mischievious they were in the 90s but never got media attention and got away with it. They thanked us and apologized for cancelling the gig in May.
We had an abundance of time once the VIP session was done until the main event started so my friend and I headed for coffee. The support band was The slow readers club.
To our surprise, when we got to the venue the support had already begun. Apparantely they started earlier and we only caught their last song! They seemed to be quite good but I cannot say much for that one song. Will need to investigate them more!
Having the support band start early and end earlier meant that James came on earlier too!! And that was great! They started off with 'To my surprise' from their new album and dedicated it to Trump! The audience was initially sitting at their seats - swaying rhythmically with the sound. Next song was 'Waking' and the third one was the crowd pleaser 'Getting away with it (all messed up)'. First cord strung and the whole hall was on their feet - first lyric sung and the crowd was singing along! It was mezmerizing. Crowd and Tim were dancing along.
The energy in the room was electrifying. I didn't understand how time flew by - or better yet - was danced away! They were fabulous. I felt especially privileged as they sang some of my favorites: 'Moving on' - which Tim explained he wrote for his mother, 'Interrogation' which was one of the guitarist's favorite, 'Tomorrow' which always brings me to tears - had to fight them off that night, 'She's a star', 'Curse curse' and 'Come home'.
Along with the great song choice (although to be honest, any James song is a great choice) they also had great lighting. They tried to enhance the songs with the light show and it worked. It had a great effect.
Once the main set list was done Tim said they would continue singing as long as they could as we deserved it for being there after they had cancelled on us! They sang 'Just like Fred Astaire' and the wonderful 'Sometimes'. As in London two years ago, the crowd started singing the chorus lines back at Tim Booth over and over again. It was wonderful. Even Tim Booth seemed mesmerized. We kept singing 'Sometimes, I look in your eyes I can see your soul' - no music just the whole hall singing to James with one heart from ours to theirs. Tim commented 'These are the moment we will remember' ( or something to that effect).
In London two years ago that was the end of the show, but this night - James wasn't prepared to leave us just yet. They left the stage and came back as they did once they finished the main set list. I could see the drummer rooting for two more songs - and he won. They sang 'Nothing but love' and 'Sound'.
James have always been my favorite band. They are intimate, they have soul, they have energy. If you have ever been to one of their concerts you may notice that Tim always makes it intimate. Either by looking straight into your eyes when singing, which makes you feel as if he is singing just for you, or by coming close to you letting you touch him. In London he crowd-surfed, while in Nottingham he stood on the seats with the crowd helping him keep his balance by holding his hand.
If you don't love James, mate, there is something wrong with you!
Here are their social media links:
Website Twitter Facebook