James Orchestral tour: A grand finale at the Royal Albert Hall
London’s Royal Albert Hall came alive with strings, horns and a full gospel choir last night, as Manchester-bred indie-rock band James closed out their Orchestral tour with a heartfelt bang. Lead vocalist Tim Booth kicked off the show from the back of the room with a slower version of Magic Bus, toning down its synth beats to give a personal welcome to the crowd as he walked down the aisle, wide eyes and dropped jaws visible in the spotlight that followed.
The concert continued as a celebration of the joys of live music. The nine current members of James were joined by Orchestra 22 and the Manchester Inspiration Gospel Choir, an assemblage that multiplied the emotion and awe of the night. They gave riveting crescendos in B-side track The Lake, haunting harmonic melodies in Millionaires ballad Hello, and punchy staccato claps in their newer tune, Love Make a Fool. Each song transcended into rich and thrilling live music, the kind you just cannot tear your eyes away from. At times the crowd jumped around and shouted the words to anthemic compositions such as Just Like Fred Astaire or fan favourite She’s a Star, and at others they simply took it all in, letting the colourful mix of sound wash over them as the speckled lights gave the venue an eerily beautiful shine. It may have been a long show, including a half-hour interval, but it provided something for every kind of music lover.
Tim Booth was wonderfully free and fluid on-stage, his vocals smooth in that hard Britpop way. Often kneeling down, he seemed as enthusiastic live music as his audience, taking it all in in its cacophonous glory. The most heartwarming moment came when Booth headed back out onto the floor for Say Something, when the crowd was at its loudest, and sang a verse directly to one man. The fan wiped a tear away; it was startlingly intimate, despite the booming throng of 5,000 around them.
James are keen to keep their music relevant for their listeners today, and All the Colours of You and Many Faces are a testament to that. Rainbow lights shone as the crowd bellowed, “Everybody belongs here” as the final echo before the encore, an uplifting anthem that made you want to squeeze the hand of the stranger next to you.
Celebrating 40 years, James have stood the test of time, creating a triumphant show that proved live music is a necessary experience. Bringing Madchester to this historic Hall, they are capable of intimate moments, awe-inspiring instrumental solos, and a fresh take on nostalgic songs. James is the band for all lovers of live music.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit James’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Say Something here: