Gig review: James/The Twang

Gig review: James/ The Twang, Glasgow Academy, April 21 2007

OK, I should probably start by being honest and admit that I managed to get slightly lost in Glasgow’s one-way system driving over, so we only caught the last three songs of The Twang’s set. Maybe it’s being the other side of thirty now, but I have reached the stage where just because a band have made it onto the cover of the NME does not mean I assume any longer that they must be any good. However, the three songs I heard I liked. They seem to know how to work a crowd, who were into proceedings, and that’s no mean feat for a crowd, many of whom could have been almost twice The Twnag’s age. The soon to be Mrs. 17 seconds described them as being like a slowed down acid house, though they are definitely a rock band.

When James come on, and kick straight into Come Home, it isn’t that it’s like they’ve never been away, but we’re reminded why we fell for them all those years ago. All the memories come back: the James’ t-shirts with flowers on them (note to younger readers; there was a time when bands like James and their contemporaries were known as T-shirt bands because they seemed to sell more T-shirts than records). Tim Booth has shaved his head but before I managed to have my view shut out by folk way taller than I, he has lost none of his charisma.

The band have a new greatest hits coming out shortly, but the sheer magic of the back catalogue was not forgotten last night in Glasgow. ‘Sit Down’ may have seemed almost like an albatross around their necks at one point – just as Radiohead found with ‘Creep’ a couple of years but they have so many other amazing songs. They never reached the commercial heights of U2 – though I seem to recall them playing a headline gig at Alton Towers amusement Park in England, circa the Seven album in 1992 – but their anthems certainly matched them. Some songs get gentle reworking, like the gentle lullaby version of ‘She’s A Star’ which is stripped of it’s swagger but not it’s aching beautiful sadness. Even the non-single tracks that get aired, like Gold Mother can bring the mostly over thirties shuffling around the baking hot Academy.

Comeback tours can feel like shameless exercises in nostalgia to pay half a dozen people’s mortgages. This was not one of those nights. The passion remains, the joy returns and the warmth lingers. And Tim Booth can still do the falsetto on ‘Laid.’ Come and sing your heart out. I just hope you’re not overcome by the venue’s heat like I was…

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