Rock indy acts from the 90's are a generation of bands hard to box within the musical tastes of the new millennium music culture.
One cannot quite pinpoint their place within today's music society as trends and movements move very quickly throughout the mainstream and new dominating tastes can be very specific. So how do we possibly refer to these bands that have made the jump a decade or two agp and can still effortlessly enthuse an audience of hundreds, even thousands, of fans ascending and descending before them? Can we categorize these types of bands as retro? This suggesting they have, through time, overcome any rejection from the mainstream and continued with their brand so steadfastly that they have finally reached into the new movement unbroken by their plight and are now 'officially' cool again. Perhaps this label could apply to some bands. James however, are classic.
From the earliest moments when it looked like the band may take to the stage (when a roadie wandered on to tune the bass guitar yet again) the crowd seemed to bellow out a level of heightened energy that only seemed to grow more passionate with time. James opened with a phenomenal reception from their adoring crowd with the song All this frustration, followed moments later with the guitar pounding Tomorrow, both classics. Despite the band being 'mature' in theory. having formed in 1981, they exerted a vast amount of youthful enthusiasm while performing each song, which produced an almost carnival-like spectacle led fervently by lead singer Tim Booth.
Indeed, throughout the performance Booth seem to use his physicality to illustrate every single rhythm and note within each song. At some points he appeared to have disjointed every bone in his bone and seemed to fluctuate across his stage with an unsettling and impressive ease. Booth is an archetype of the perfect leading man in a band, he loses himself in the music, maximising his vocal performance and yet does not sever the holy connection between himself and the fans (at one point launching himself into crowd to sing Say something along with the crowd).
Looking around the audience, James has certainly got a set age group of fans. Most of the crowd appeared to be married or at least have the responsibility of an endowment policy, which does suggest that perhaps their classic image is considered 'classic' for a reason. However to add already to their extensive repertoire James played several new songs they had been working on (Booth held the lyrics on paper in front of him) and the crowd seem fairly responsive to this new material. Although the crowd were once again explosive when the band launched in Laid and Sit down in succession, equal classics.
After the break-up, the reformation of James seems to have spurred a new era in the band, one that appreciates their past but is ready to embrace a ever-changing future. James are an excellent live band and if they produce that level of performance at every show to come every fan, old and new, will acknowledge the brilliance of their performance ability.