Review + Photography by Frank Ralph

Halifax, a town famous for Cat’s Eyes (the reflecting studs on the road that keep you safe), chocolate and banking has a rich musical history, but of late the calibre of acts playing here has had a bit of a boom with the Stone Roses, Kasabian and Florence + the Machine having all played at the Victoria Theatre recently.

Tonight it was the turn of Mancunian legends James to bring their unique show to the beautiful venue tonight.

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With the beautiful weather, a guaranteed great view from anywhere in the venue and the promise of a 2 and a half hour set from the headliners it was a great excuse for many to stay for that extra beer and arrive in time for James, but those who ventured in for the support act Lanterns on the Lake were treated to an incredible set of epic soaring indie soundscapes from the Newcastle band. They are definitely ones to look out for.

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James took to the stage to the sound of thunderous drums and a true heroes welcome (almost hysteric to be honest) before launching into Hank. As a band they tend to pick their set list on the day and aren’t scared of playing new tracks and avoiding the classics that many passing fans might expect. That said, not many bands could elicit the response from new tracks that James do. There’s something about how they write songs and music that just connects with people. Evidenced by the good 5 minutes of the crowd singing Many Faces back to Tim Booth as he just stood there soaking in the incredible response. A song nobody had heard before with a beautiful refrain of ‘There’s only one human race. Many Faces. Everybody belongs here.’ It was a truly exceptional moment to witness.

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It feels like for Tim Booth it’s all about making a connection with people, whether it’s standing on the barrier and leaning into the crowd, going for a crowd surf or taking a death defying walk along the edge of the balcony during Born of Frustration – putting his trust in only his balance and the support of the fans sat in the front row he makes a connection with pretty much everyone in the room, personally.

Tim admits he is the only person in the country to be insured for stage diving, but there might be something in the T&Cs about his unusual route around the venue that voids that.

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Musically they are incredibly tight and sounded huge but with 8 of them on stage that’s no surprise. They create a sound that is so easy to lose yourself in and seeing Tim Booth dancing like he has an angry wasp attacking him is always a delightful sight.

With a 23 song set that showcased a lot of new material from the upcoming Living In Extraordinary Times, alongside the classics such as Say Something, Ring The Bells and Come Home it was no surprise they had to make some last minute set list changes as they ran out of time approaching the encore. Finishing with Sometimes and Laid they capped off a legendary evening that had everyone leaving the venue in raptures.

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As you can imagine I’ve seen many, many concerts in my time, but this was easily one of my all-time top 3 shows ever.

See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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