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Indie Legends James Put on Unmissable Show at Leeds First Direct Arena [Photos]

Almost a hometown show for indie legends James, the Mancunian band put on an unmissable show. Photos and review here…

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James
James, photo by Frank Ralph Photography

The spectacular FD Arena in Leeds hosted Mancunian legends James for what was a truly special show in support of their latest album, Yummy. Although James is known as being from Manchester, frontman Tim was born a stone’s throw away from Leeds, making this almost a hometown show for the much-loved band.

Show openers Razorlight were once destined to be huge but seemed to not quite make it to the next level for some reason. That’s a shame, as on tonight’s showing, they were fantastic. It is a top-drawer Indie with massive singalongs and a great stage presence.

There were more songs in their set that you knew than you thought you knew, and with the likes of “In the Morning,” “Golden Touch,” and “Somewhere Else,” they had the crowd enthralled. A great choice of openers and a great way to rediscover them.

James’ latest album, Yummy, is one of the best of the 18 albums they have released, showing them to be in a rich creative vein of late. However, it is in the live setting that James truly excels.

Every fan knows that a James setlist is an ever-changing organic experience as Tim tries to curate the evening almost like creating a mixtape for a loved one, and this one saw three-quarters of the album getting played, which for those who may have been expecting “the hits” might have been a bit disappointing.

For the people who had done their homework with the new album, it created what was, in my opinion, the best James show I’d ever seen, building up throughout to an incredible crescendo.
They began with “Johnny Yen” which set the tone for the rest of the night as it ended with a frenetic jam led by Saul.

The stage seemed massive with each of the nine members of James and occasional appearances by four Manchester Inspirational Voice Choir members spread out across its expanse.

Tim made his way down to the barrier at the front to engage the audience several times. If the crowd were behaving and keeping their phones in their pockets, he launched himself onto them and went for a crowd surf – he later admitted if his body had been willing, he would have made his way up to the balcony for a walk-through the seated part of the arena to engage further.

The magic wasn’t confined to the stage, though, as the giant screen at the back was captivating. At points, the live action of the band on stage was overlayed with glitching alien and skeletal graphics matching the movements perfectly and left you wondering how the hell it was being done. It felt like Saul was having a great time, and when he cut loose on “Out to Get You,” it looked like it even took Tim by surprise.

The set had been building momentum all night, and a bombastic “Tomorrow,” “Come Home,” and “Sometimes” closed what was a phenomenal show with the band standing at the lip of the stage in silence while the crowd sang “Sometimes” back at them. It was a real goosebump-inducing moment, and by ending the show, there would have been plenty.

The 4-song encore was great, but it almost felt a bit of shame that they played “Sit Down.” Maybe it was a reward for the crowd being so good, but, in all honesty, it wasn’t needed, and it proved too much for one fan when the song had to be paused whilst they were helped by the heaving throng of people. This, however, allowed the band a little extra time on stage, and they decided to fill it with the brilliant “Laid” to end the night.

It was one of the best shows I’d seen them play, and it led to Tim posting on X how thankful he was for his post-show ice bath. If you can see them on this run, then go – they are unmissable at the moment.

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