Saturday 27 July 2019

James / Dear Boy - Royal Oak Music Theatre - 20th July 2019

Royal Oak saw the latest leg of James' North American tour last Saturday. IKWIHF caught his final show of his run on this trip and reports back.

It's another stinking hot day day in the US – it has reached 38C plus the impact of the humidity. A thunderstorm breaks out at about 6:30 joined by numerous momentary blackouts of the grid and a torrential downpour of rain. When the weather disturbance stops after 7pm, there is a relieving drop in the ambient temperature to the high 20’s. However on the way to the Royal Oak Music Theatre for tonight’s gig there looks to be a number of ongoing electricity blackouts plus numerous traffic lights are down.

Like today’s weather, tonight James are really hot with numerous intense thunderstorms produced through out their longer than previous nights seventy-plus minute performance.

It would be only fair to give a big shout out to the opening band Dear Boy from L.A. It's a tough spot to be in: to play the first tunes in front on an audience that is keen for the bigger long established bands who follow. Dear Boy however is not just a band to be sat through while you wait for the big name. It's a small peppy and talented rock band with mature and well thought out lyrics and high quality musicianship throughout their set. From their initial opener in Toronto to the most recent set in Royal Oak, the band has grown in confidence in sharing the stage and deservedly won the enthusiasm of the crowd with its tight performances. If you want to check them out, Dear Boy have three EPs and five singles, including a 2015 cover of Psychedelic Furs single The Ghost In You, available on iTunes. Plus Dear Boy have started their last few opening sets ten to fifteen minutes earlier than scheduled in order to allow James to extend their stage time.

James start their night with a thunderous take of cd opener Hank which is wildly received by both younger and older fans tonight. Tonight, James do a total of five songs from Living In Extraordinary Times, including Leviathan, Heads, What’s It All About and their usual main set closer Many Faces. James have their audience in Royal Oak with fans of assorted ages enthusiastically react to these newer songs.

The high paced start to the night courtesy of Hank is maintained with La Petite Mort track Curse, Curse followed by the Laid title track and new track Leviathan. For the first time in this co-headlining tour, taking advantage of their longer stage time tonight, James do what they typically do when they are headliners and take a quiet break in the set to play a couple of emotionally charged, personal songs back to back. These are La Petite Mort’s Moving On and All I’m Saying, about the deaths of Tim Booth’s Mum and a close friend from cancer respectively. As was done during the La Petite Mort tour, Tim asks the crowd to quiet down for All I’m Saying, which the vast majority of the audience do. It’s a beautiful few minutes.

Then out of the blue, the great Whiplash song Play Dead starts up to change the mood, but then in true James fashion the song falls apart a few lines into the start of Tim’s vocal. Unable to sort out what went wrong, after a minute or so James substitute Laid album song Say Something. Aah, so close to true victory, one can taste it. Too bad for all of us.

A few songs later though, the audience is treated to another truly beautiful take: for the first time on this tour Tim does a duet with backup vocalist Chloe Alper on Girl at the End of the World song Attention. On this song we are also given some beautiful, introspective keyboard work from Mark Hunter. Just delicious.

Saul then starts into the intro of Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), which is warmly received by the audience as it is every night. Preceded by James trying to sort out how much time they have left to play, pro humanity sing along Many Faces brings the proper main set to a nice close, though without time for the audience sing along tonight. In order to get more song time, James don’t leave the stage in order to squeeze in the long encore song Sometimes. It’s a nice end to the night and my attendance of James shows on this North American tour. Simply beautiful.

James played Hank, Curse Curse, Laid, Leviathan, Moving On, All I’m Saying, Play Dead (start), Say Something, Heads, What’s It All About, Attention, Getting Away With It, Many Faces and Sometimes

James' North American tour with Psychedelic Furs and Dear Boy continues at Salt Lake City The Complex (27), Seattle Showbox SoDo (30), Vancouver Orpheum Theatre (31), Portland Crystal Ballroom (August 1), Reno Grand Sierra Resort And Casino (3), San Francisco Stern Grove Festival (4), San Diego North Park The Observatory (6) and Los Angeles Greek Theatre (7)

They then return to Europe for dates at  Eastnor Castle Lakefest (August 11), Edinburgh Princes Gardens Summer Sessions (15), Doncaster Racecourse (17), Hardwick Live (18), Charleville-Meziere Festival Cabaret Vert (24), Knebworth Cool Britannia (31), Bingley Music Festival (September 1), Lisbon Rock In Rio (7), Madrid La Riviera (12), Porto Parque Da Pasteleira (13) and Benidorm Visor Fest (14).

James' official website can be found here. They are on Facebook and Twitter.  Some of the band - TimAndy and Dave - are also on Twitter.

We also run the One Of The Three James archive, the most detailed resource for information about the band, and the site also has a Facebook and Twitter page.

TimBoothLyricADay, whose posts often lead to Tim explaining his thought processes behind the lyrics, can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Dear Boy's official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates

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