martedì 18 giugno 2024

My Review: James - Live in Manchester 14th June 2024 Co-Op Live Arena

 James - Live in Manchester

14 June 2024 Co-Op Live Arena

It is always a set of perspectives that make up the coming together of people, starting with the physical and ending with the attitudinal and behavioural. If twenty-three thousand five hundred creatures gather for a concert everything multiplies, to reach the sky where the bubbles of vapour escaping from the souls involved are examined. To be present at all this, to participate with an attentive gaze and an open heart to be part of this Mancunian band experience, to confirm an absolute love, to lose oneself in the beauty of the event, to find new inner melodies certifies the value of this multitude, in an epic and energising evening in which it was difficult to remain indifferent.  There are those who have emphasised some of the limitations of the new venue, probably for the unhealthy pleasure of controversy, forgetting that in the end every single situation escapes the gaze and interest of those who do not experience those particular shortcomings. However, the new arena hosted a chance that  James honoured with an excellent performance, a continuous collective embrace, a smile, a firm handshake, a continuous echo of emotions and thoughts chasing each other, determined by their still lively passion and determination to make a show a playful, dreamlike, vitamin-packed evening, in which the encephalogram and the heartbeat were always in the zone of the quiver, of the gentle explosion of a joy that with the nine members knows no expiry date. All this is augmented by the quartet of Manchester's Inspirational Voices choir, with the result that the spirituality of the lyrics and their already great evocative power are extended.  Twenty-one moments and the feeling that the setlist focused on the chorality of the songs, in an enveloping, well-spread succession, continuously keeping tension and attention high. There are those who do not like large concert venues (the Old Scribe is among them), but then a situation like this shuffles the cards and the game changes, one arrives at astonishment and benefit, unexpected, forgetting one's own needs, seeing oneself transformed into a vehicle that brings new things on board and feeling better. Nine of their eighteen works have found a place with songs that have given time the stamp of complicity, of remembrance, and the latest album Yummy has once again demonstrated the band's ability to make us feel everything as new, diverse, as yet another birth that changes the interpretations now historicised in the two months since its release, to extend our most sincere welcome and thanks.  James know how to tame the reluctance, the rejections, give a shake to those who turn up their noses and deliver to the history of their fabulous artistic journey another medal of valour.   Their shows are pregnancies and natural births, in which intelligence, pathos, impulsiveness, impulses between the rational and the need for the moment are compacted, unfiltered, to generate new children, and the plots that emerge from all this can be unsettling, as they know how to give beauty a different sense, above all by dressing the sense with new moods, colours, smells, resulting in a whole new disc.

The stage is their garden, their carpet, where bodies practice imaginary yoga practices and the mind flies over the horizons of eyes ready to feed, to find themselves clothed in enchantments and vibrations. 

Saul Davies has rightly credited Jim Glennie with forming the band more than four decades ago, a band in which many have come and many have gone, but he is the pillar of an intention and an ability to assemble in the project the vitality, the ability to scrutinise, the putting oneself on the line-up by empowering, kindly, those who are part of the line-up at that moment.   There is no showmanship, no sterile attempts to curry favour with the audience, but a desire to exude professionalism, to expend skills, to renew the repertoire of skills to elevate the whole in a path where the true light is shed by all this, despite, let it be clear, the play on stage offering spectacular form. The old Scribe does not really like the meeting of different arts in a concert, but during this one he changed his mind and not a little, because nothing took away from the musical notes that, I repeat, are not seen but heard.

There were many moments in which tears found themselves suspended in the space of the Co-Op: during Ring The Bells, Better With You, Shadow Of A Giant, Way Over Your Head, Rogue, Sound all of this happened, without any reluctance.  But with Jam J, I believe we have touched the sky, as the strength of the groove, the melodic extension, the tribal dance and the exploration of sounds have given the members of the group a meadow in which to draw intensity, greatness and research, both intimate personal and collective.

On Mobile God, the visual installation engaged attention, reflection, and technology, in this case, did its job very well, projecting our consciousness towards and into the future, dispensing confusion and bewilderment, fear and great curiosity, for a truly effervescent result.

Sometimes was once again the spark of a love that embraces the past, confirming the truth in the words of the refrain, ever more necessary and resounding, a river that collects the sticks of our existences to carry them into the fluorescent ocean of the Manchester band. A collective declaration that precedes the future, every time...  Tim Booth indulged as always, but what was evident was his great curiosity, attention, bringing his critical spirit to be a ray of sunshine, amid smiles, handshakes, requests and hopes.

The public has changed over the years, I think we should not be ashamed to say for the worse, with some people who had no respect for others. But in the end, the desire to participate by giving the best of oneself won out, in a collective sense in which the cleanliness of the soul got the better of the boorish aspects.

The anthems written over the years confirmed the empathy and choral participation, an obvious happening, but the other songs were also able to generate streams of joy. Beautiful Beaches is the most striking example.

The encore, in its perfection, bid farewell to the thirteen people on stage, but left the connection intact as they left the venue, with faces, speeches and songs that meant that nothing could be considered finished. And that is where the success, the meaning, the strength of an evening is determined....

Alex Dematteis



19th June 2024

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