Review by Hayley Clark with Photography by Katja Ogrin

Arriving on stage for the opening set lead singer Tim appeared in a black furry jacket accompanied by a crutch, telling his adoring audience he hopes to have got rid by tonight but he’s hurt his ankle, (in a more colourful choice of words).

James

“We’re gonna play you some miserable songs cause your Birmingham and way too happy” observed frontman Tim Booth as James opened with a 40 minute acoustic set, stripped back bare to entertain the masses that had come to the Birmingham Academy tonight for the sold out show.

To be honest half of the audience were pretty rude during the first half, believing they were in a pub having a good old chin wag rather than a live music venue. However after joking he would shut the bars Tim told the crowd “Let’s make a deal you shut the f-up and we’ll give you the hits after… don’t, and we’ll just go”.

James

James

Trying to assess whether the crowd would be quiet enough they belted out ‘Just Like Fred Astaire’ before closing on a stripped back version of ‘Sit Down’, the 1989 track that propelled them into fame back in 1991 after being re-released during the height of the ‘Madchester’ movement which resulted in the audience echoing the words around the venue in harmony as there wasn’t a single person who didn’t recognise the hit.

Gone are the curly locks Tim used to have as he struts around the stage not letting his injury deter him as he climbs over to a small B stage on the barrier. It seems some of these “chatter fans” were stuck in that era as dressed in white shirt and grey jogging bottoms, I heard one tell their friend “I didn’t know Cyrus the Virus sang this”, resembling the mature look Booth has sported over the years to John Malkovich in Con Air.

James

James

The second set was more upbeat leaving audience cheers and sing-alongs,  bouncing around the stalls at their idols on the stage. Marking the release of the fantastic ‘Living in Extraordinary Times’ album the audience were treated to an array of fantastic music from the new album ‘Leviathan’, ‘Heads’ and ‘Moving Cars’ as well as old favourites like ‘Getting Away With It’.

Referring to fans asking for requests and latest offerings Tim told them “The definition of happiness is life minus expectations and for those who are requesting your favourite song out of the 350 we have written that may apply to you, you have more chances than winning the lottery”.

James

James

Even though the evening concentrated on the new sounds, Birmingham were treated to the classic anthem ‘Laid’, as the infectious beat kicked in, the crowd immediately recognised it bouncing up and down on the spot.

With the ankle injury not going to stop him, ever the showman, Tim dove into the crowd and was carried through his adoring fans, encouraging them to put their phones down and watch first person as technology has taken over our lives.

James

James

Leaving to cheers of one more song the band took a bow before returning for an encore of ‘Come Home’ with flashing strobes blended into reds and purple clouds, the audience went wild with excitement with even the seated area on their feet bouncing around crazily in the balconies. Trumpet player Andy Diagram appeared on the balcony working up the crowd as he played amongst the fans, tooting his tunes to cheers and smiles. ’Many faces’ left the audience on a high as they sang around the venue, echoing the chorus, Tim held the audience’s hands from the B stage as they sang along to the chorus for an extra four minutes a cappella style.

Tim and the band beamed with emotion as they saw their flock react to the penultimate of the twelve day tour. James is more than a 90’s hit band as they displayed tonight, winning the crowd over with new tracks and not needing to play just the hits to keep the crowd engaged, Tim’s voice sounds stronger than ever as they wowed Birmingham tonight.

James

James

2 Responses to “James at O2 Academy, Birmingham, UK – 21st March 2019”

  1. John Bentley Says:

    These really are superb photos, well done Katja!

  2. Tracey Says:

    Great reflection of an awesome evening in words and pictures, save “Even the seated area”… blame the O2 Seated Police not the fans unwillingness to get up… there was a lot of chair dancing before Tim tried to engage with one of them, and the collective rose up!

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