Wednesday 21 June 2023

James / The Clause - Wolverhampton The Halls - 20th June 2023

James headed to Wolverhampton on Tuesday night as part of the series to reopen the city's biggest venue complex after a multi-million pound refit. Discarding most of the songs they played on their recent tour with an orchestra and choir they delighted their hardcore fans with a setlist of rarely played songs mixed liberally amongst many of their biggest songs. Support came from the excellent The Clause who made themselves perfectly at home on the big stage and won over a new set of fans.

The Clause are in a buoyant mood after their performance at Isle Of Wight Festival at the weekend and that confidence is brimming from them as they take to the stage. Pearce tells us his first ever gig as a thirteen year-old was watching James at the O2 Academy in Birmingham as a thirteen year old so they're excited to be performing with them. Their eight-song set is an impressive showcase of a band that has the ability to craft songs that both sound like something you know yet have their own personality stamped across them. They make clever use of samples, the keyboards add an extra element that helps them stand out and they have the basic prerequisites of being able to craft songs that make you listen to them and deliver them in style.

Previous singles Time Of Our Lives and In My Element bookmark the set, in which their most recent single Hate The Player and its follow-up Fake It, written Pearce tells us whilst staring out the window in their 9-5 jobs, show their progression as songwriters and also as performers since we last saw them a couple of years ago. They ask at the end if people will come and see them again and there's an unanimous roar of approval. Job done.

Tim tells us half way through the show they're learning, post their tour with an orchestra and choir, again on how to play without thirty other people behind them. They address this issue in true James fashion by not playing many of the songs they did on that recent tour. Six of the first seven songs weren't played on that tour, the exception being the new song they wrote for that collaboration Love Make A Fool, which feels a little naked out of the environment into which it's been born and exposed to the world so far. 

Around it we get a fire-laden Johnny Yen to open, followed by Five-O and a fast aggressive new violin intro from Saul that's initially unrecognisable. What James have done is to make themselves sound harder and faster, something that they do later on Out To Get You which is transformed simply by upping the pace a little. Waltzing Along feels loose and joyous whilst What For, making a return to the set after seven years, has Tim telling us he might not remember the words, but he does. By the time it hits the second verse the audience are clapping along as if it's one of their biggest hits. Which maybe it should have been.

I Know What I'm Here For also makes a welcome overdue return having only been played once in the last ten years despite its appearance on Champions League football coverage in the intervening period, a sign that James don't just do the obvious. Interrogation is clearly a band favourite, Saul telling us it's from one of, if not the best, record they've ever made. We'll go to our grave complaining that they cut out the middle section of the song, our favourite part, but it'd take the song to ten minutes with the extended improvised outro.

Sit Down starts with a wonderfully lop-sided combination of keys and drums and it's currently sounding as fresh and invigorated as it ever has, the song's lyrics seem to resonate even more than ever as the world continues its descent into shit and finding the good people who feel the same way as you is one of the few redeeming factors. It's followed by the gorgeous duet Hello, which was so powerful on the orchestra tour that they felt it couldn't be dropped. It's harder in a standing crowd, the guy behind says quite loudly that's it a bit self-indulgent to play a song no one knows after their biggest hit, demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of how this band operates as well as a level of self-indulgancy to talk when everyone wants to listen to the band not him. All Good Boys, described by Tim as one of the best b-sides ever, is at least loud enough to drown any dissenters out as it's given a harder sharper edge than on record and previous live outings.

The main set finishes with a run of singles, but one that's a six-song flit around their immense back catalogue from 1985's Hymn From A Village to 2021's Beautiful Beaches with a rare recent outing for perennial favourite Ring The Bells, Say Something which has Tim out on the barrier standing above the front rows, a raucous joyous Come Home and a final Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) with a new elongated intro over which Tim sings the melody.  The songs feel like the band are itching and searching to do something new with them which is when they're at their best.

The encore starts with the welcome return of Out To Get You to the setlist and like Five-O before it, there's an increased sense of urgency, a heightened pace to it that's thrilling and intriguing in equal measure. All The Colours Of You follows, testament to James' commitment to ensure their recent material still gets an airing amongst their biggest hitting songs and they finish on a raucous joyous Laid that has Wolverhampton and bouncing out the door, meaning the undroppable Sometimes finally lost its place in the starting line-up. 

The band are on good form throughout, Tim spinning Andy round on his chair during Sit Down and changing a line in Waltzing Along to reference Andy's broken foot. Saul tells us he looks like a sinister accountant before Interrogation. The interactions between the band seem to drive them on, Debbie in particular being a driving force particularly away from her drum kit. Life does, it seem, begin at forty.

James played Johnny Yen, Five-O, Waltzing Along, What For, Love Make A Fool, I Know What I’m Here For, Interrogation, Sit Down, Hello, All Good Boys, Say Something, Hymn From A Village, Ring The Bells, Come Home, Beautiful Beaches, Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), Out To Get You, All The Colours Of You and Laid.

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

They also play Bristol Sounds (June23), Liverpool Pier Head (July 2), Halifax Piece Hall (7/8), Thessaloniki Moni Lazariston (12), Laois Forest Fest (21), Dundee Slessor Gardens (28), Y Not Festival (29), Darlington Arena (August 5), London Crystal Palace South Facing (11) and Jersey Weekender (September 3).

They play a festival exclusive orchestral show at Latitude Festival (July 23) as well as a show in the stunning setting of Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, Greece (July 10) as well as a warm up at Leicester De Montfort Hall (July 4) and rescheduled dates at Bath Forum (October 24) and Nottingham Royal Centre (25). 

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.

The Clause are on Facebook and Twitter.


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

No comments:

Post a Comment