Die Shellsuit, Die!

An Alternative Music Magazine

Brixton Academy: 27/04/2007 (Reunion tour 2007)


BRIXTON BE THY CHURCH: "James..(sarcastic tone used followed by embarrassed snigger)..oh they’re actually one of my favourite bands from back in the day..." is a phrase often heard when describing James, as if somehow it’s a dirty commercial secret and if the music police catch you liking James you’ll be forced to hold a large flashing neon arrow over your head whenever you put something shit on the jukebox in your local for the remainder of your miserable life.

The former Levellers’ and Waterboys’ peers who have since become so much more and then some. Their importance resonates more than ever in today’s bright young things, a perfect example being those upstarts The Twang who aptly find themselves in support for the main event tonight. No doubt the work of some intuitive promoter who saw the obvious comparison.

For James, where their contemporaries have faded like their easily dated music, James seem to have allowed their natural talent to overspill sometimes and give them the wings to climb the heights of chart stardom for a bit of cash, unfallable when it comes to "getting away with it" in the eyes of their fans and where others have stumbled and "all messed up". They have managed to sell out without selling out. Make sense? Well, in the eyes of James’ adoring crowd this makes perfect sense.

It is evident the band know this as once you were in the crowd with the ringing of audience members doing the "nah-na nah-na nah-na nah-na nah- nah nah nah na-na na-na" intro to ’Come home’, the band burst on to the stage and cracked on right into that exact anthem as if the setlist was psychically projected from the worshiping audience into the musicians’ minds Derren Brown-style.

So, people were jumping around happily frenzied from the off, what can I say? How very clever of them? Nay, it would have made no difference had they performed a slow one first, this crowd are united in love, in love with a band who are totally unique in managing to personalise their pop so perfectly it almost feels you’ve been touched by the hand of a spiritual guru just watching Tim booth in action. I caught his solo album live at the gig at the ICA which got slated in the press, but they must have stood at the back, because I felt it there too, I’m feeling it tonight again, but ten times stronger. Either I’m spiritually connected to Tim, or he really has an amazing aura and a power over an audience like no other performer except maybe Tony Robbins... or Buddha! It could be the band’s knowledge of how dearly beloved they are which fills the place with such joy going back and forth from them to the crowd and back again. It’s a mutual relationship. and there is no other band who can do that.

They launched in to classic after classic, doing lots of songs from their best known albums - Seven, Laid, Gold Mother, but also harked back to the early years with most memorably a theatrically visceral rendition of ’Riders’ which had everyone chanting "THROW THE SUCKER TO THE FLOOR THROW THE SUCKER TO THE FLOOR". I found this amusing, I thought to myself ’this hyped up lot will sing along to anything’ but realised quite soon I was kidding myself and that I was one of them.

The new tracks had the crowd agog in an almost trance-like state of amazement. This illustrated how it was not just a night for nostalgia, and tour of former glories. They really do still have something significant to give. Clapping ensued, then a few softer numbers where all the couples could hold hands swaying and hope their partners wouldn’t relate to the words in "don’t wait that long" which Booth announced as being "about a broken relationship". That’s cheery! It sounds gloomy but as with all James’ music the uplifting nature of the chords used and the elevation of the sound of strings all tied up with Booth’s empathetic vocals leaves you startled by true beauty once more.

For the obligatory encore they turn tonight’s Church that is usually smelly ol’ Brixton academy into a heaving rave atmosphere party by doing a manic version of the title track of aformementioned Lp ’Gold Mother’. Brixton errupted as elfin-dancing figures appear on the stage mingling in with the group and seductively wiggling around Tim booth as he strutts in his usual spastic-dancing style which of course is all about letting go, being yourself and doing what comes naturally. He is James’ ethos personified.

No, I have not been brain washed at a self help seminar nor have I been mediating, however, I am left with a genuine feeling of peace only associated with religious experience. I didn’t even take any ecstacy! All it takes is a couple of pints and for a musical part of my lost youth to return and the world feels right again.

James are my new favourite band. Again.