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James Reviewed

Stephanie Preston and a fan's eye view of a Manchester band that still makes a mark

Published on November 7th 2011.

James Reviewed

NOT all James fans would relish the idea of a quiet concert accompanied by both the Orchestra of the Swan and the Manchester Gospel Choir, but for many, this musical extravaganza was the band’s piece de resistance, a musical masterpiece. 

Booth even danced out into the audience with Dance like Fred Astaire. He serenaded Peter Kay and chose one lucky lady to go cheek-to-cheek with. 

The Bridgewater Hall is home to two orchestras, The Halle and the Manchester Camerata and regularly hosts the BBC Philharmonic. But on this occasion the 2,400 capacity venue was host to a gentle yet raucous gig spiced with occasional Tim Booth humour.

Booth is the flamboyant frontman of James and lived up to his reputation from the start.

To open the evening he came on dressed in a conductor's tail coat equipped with a baton and began to tune up the orchestra, before leading them into the William Tell overture.

As the real conductor, the outstanding Joe Duddell, and the rest of the band came on stage, the music moved gently into the opening bars of Dustmotes and we the audience were immediately entranced.

From start to finish Booth held us bewitched with his vocal range, soft yet powerful, hard yet caressing. Meanwhile the Manchester gospel choir harmonised perfectly. When the choir’s soprano joined Booth to perform Alaskan Pipeline it gave me goose bumps.

Booth even danced out into the audience with Dance Like Fred Astaire. He serenaded Peter Kay and chose one lucky lady to go cheek-to-cheek with. 

In the second half of the show the band continued to raise the roof while Booth shook and gyrated hypnotically. A hiccup occurred during the hauntingly beautiful folk song Fire So Close when the singer forgot the words and the male members of the Manchester choir continued, only to have to restart when Booth reminded them he was in charge.

With the opening bars of Say Something the audience came alive with every person in the auditorium erupting out of their seats and joining in a mad frenzy of singing and dancing. The band kept the audience on their feet with Tomorrow and Getting Away With It.

The audience became the band and the band became the audience when during the final song of the night, Sometimes, Booth challenged everyone to a battle of singing prowess.

Then suddenly it was over, leaving us hungry for more. This band might have been together for almost thirty years, but they still carry all the power, passion and yearning of their youth. I can't wait for whatever musical extravaganza James have to offer us next.

James were at the Bridgewater Hall last week

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