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James are a Mancunian rock band that formed in 1982 and went on to release multiple top ten hits in the ’90s, including their iconic track ‘Sit Down’ which many Brits will know the words to, even if they don’t know the band.

On Friday night (03/12/21) I had the pleasure of attending the second to last date of their recent tour, featuring special guests Happy Mondays, another Manchester Britpop trailblazer. The venue was the A0 Arena, Manchester, and the crowd was abuzz with 90s nostalgia.

Donning their James merchandise and holding a beer in each hand, fans crowded into the arena, making sure to get there extra early to witness Bez’s funky dance moves and listen to Sean Ryder’s psychedelic vocals.

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The atmosphere was electric, proving that the 30 years since these two bands were at the height of their stardom didn’t diminish their appeal, this very much felt like a night of stepping back in time, into the cosy memories of the Madchester movement.

Happy Mondays got the crowd dancing, joining in with Bez and copying his eccentric moves (although, admittedly not as well) and singing along to the classic Monday’s hits they know so well.

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Out of the two frontmen, Bez appeared first, hyping the crowd up, then on came Ryder, a black cap casting his face half in shadow. Occasionally, Ryder would blow a puff of smoke into the air, seemingly to hint at the wild, daring Monday’s image they were so well known for.

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When the main act finally appeared, the crowd were hyped up for a night they were unlikely to forget.
This impressive nine-piece band took the stage with storm, frontman Tim Booth donning a large beanie and a fur coat, he very much looked the part of an ageing rock star.

It’s not every day you see a band with two drummers and, I must admit, I was hesitant as to whether it would even work, however, of course, James pulled it off, with 30 years of performing under their belts, it’s no surprise they can create such an exciting, yet intimate, atmosphere in a giant arena.

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With an impressive 19 song setlist, there was surely enough to appeal to every single audience member.
James didn’t rely on the gimmicks of performing their classic hits, opting for a more honest approach, and playing their new tracks with a healthy mixture of the old songs we all know and love, a devoting James fans dream show.

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The whole night felt like a celebration of Manchester’s music champions and these two bands were a perfect representation of the cities musical culture. James surely have many more years of hits and tremendous performances to go.

SETLIST


Zero

Isabella

She’s a Star

Born of Frustration

All the Colours of You

Many Faces

Gold Mother

Come Home (with Bez)

Honest Joe

Seven

Interrogation

Maria’s Party

Hymn From a Village

Walk Like You

Nothing but Love

Curse Curse

Wherever It Takes Us

Sit Down

Sound


ENCORE


Beautiful Beaches
Getting Away with It (All Messed Up) Laid
Sometimes (Lester Piggott)


REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY LUELLAPICS

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