Words by Dylan Bryant (Music Editor)

On the 17th May, Manchester Indie-rock band James concluded their Lasted tour in spectacular fashion at London’s Royal Albert Hall. 

Accompanied by a gospel choir, strings, and horns, James’s incredible portfolio of hits came to life as the sold-out crowd was mesmerised by a performance to remember.

The tour comes ahead of the release of the bands forthcoming 40th Anniversary double album of greatest hits. This includes fan favourites reimagined with an orchestra and choir titled – Be Opened By The Wonderful. 

Lead singer, Tim Booth began the performance stood amongst adoring fans with a slower rendition of Magic Bus. As he walked down the aisle, the spotlight followed him to the stage, capturing the crowds enjoyment.

As soon as the choir and orchestra kicked in, there was an instant feeling that this was going to be a truly special night as the glorious assemblage of sounds lifted the emotion, joy and story of the song beautifully. 

Each track grew into a crescendo of sonic magic as the harmonic melodies filled the Hall. From the charming ambience on tracks like The Lake, irresistible sing-along moments on tracks like Say Something to the snappy staccato claps on Love Make a Fool, each song was transformed into exhilarating live music that had the audience in awe.

Whilst some tracks offered these beautiful arrangements, others had the crowds erupting into pure euphoria as fans jumped from their seats to dance and shout the lyrics to James’s biggest hits such as She’s a Star and Sit Down. The healthy 27 song set list served up something for every kind of music lover. Whilst some fans sat in silence, spellbound by the beauty of the compositions, others couldn’t resist letting themselves go to the anthemic hits. 

Tim Booth felt the music throughout as he danced fluidly and free to each track, evidently enjoying himself as the grin on his face radiated positive energy. Despite the grand feel of the Royal albert Hall, Booth didn’t fail to keep it intimate as he often left the stage to join the crowd, even singing an entire verse of Say Something to one man who wiped a tear away from his cheek as he watched in disbelief.

A personal highlight was when the band played Moving On from their 2014 album La Petite Mort. Speckled lights travelled around the Royal Albert Halls dazzling interior as Tim Booths immaculate vocals delivered the lyrics “I’m on my way, soon be moving on my way, leave a little light on, leave a little light on”. The track began with a haunting and eerie distorted sequence of guitar chords, before a beautiful string arrangement took over and launched the track into what transcended as a rich and thrilling rendition of the perfect indie-rock song. 

The crowd were at their loudest during the final song and fan favourite Sometimes. As the song closed, the crowd launched into a cappella, singing the chorus’s lyrics “Sometimes, when I look deep in your eyes, I swear I can see your soul” over and over before the band joined back in, closing the set beautifully.

James proved exactly why they’ve stood the test of time with a magnificent performance that highlighted the joy of live music. The set delivered everything from intimate personal moments and breath-taking instrumental solos to the incredible arrangements of their anthemic classics. 

James 40th Anniversary Orchestral album, Be Opened By The Wonderful to be released 9th June 2023.

Categories: Music

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