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Reviewed: James at De Montfort Hall

James bring hits to Leicester.

A black & white image of James band members on stage with a huge crowd of fans behind them
James bring orchestral tour to Leicester

James have delighted fans around the world with their collection of smash hits, deep cuts, and hidden gems since the early 1980s.

I remember my friends and I discovering the band in our late teens, many of our bedrooms blasting out the greatest hits and attending gigs when they played up the road in Brighton – leaving before the encore to make sure we caught the last train home.

When I heard they were coming to Leicester at De Montfort Hall and bringing a 22 piece orchestra and gospel choir in celebration of a new album and their 40th anniversary I knew I had to attend.

After rushing to get there for the surprisingly early show time of 7.30pm I was immediately impressed that there was a clear ‘no phones’ policy. At the risk of sounding ancient this was a great touch. Why people go to gigs and feel the need to record the whole thing rather than watch is beyond me.

A seated gig sometimes makes me feel a little stifled – 16 year old me would never have dreamed of sitting down at a gig! The 40 year old me however was pretty pleased, and anyway, it didn’t stop the audience moving around and the atmosphere wasn’t compromised at all.

I personally really enjoy a classical music fusion and the recent popularity of reimagined hits from band with the addition of an orchestra works really well when I have seen it before and on this occasion is was especially good.

The orchestra for the tour is ORCA22Manchester orchestra along with the Manchester Inspirational Voices choir.

Tim Booth started the show with characteristic wit and pretty soon its was a stream of hit after hit including their biggest hit ‘Sit Down’. I saw James live a couple of years back and was actually pretty disappointed at the dropping of their big hitters from the set list – that was not the case here!

Booth was his typically enigmatic and energetic self, moving from hit to hit seamlesslely to an ever excited crowd. We hear 'Say Something’, ‘She’s a Star’, like never before and whilst I occasionally missed the guitars – the strings soon made up for it.

Accompanied by the sumptuous sounds of the gospel choir changing the shape of each track with their new direction and sound was such a treat.

I couldn’t get over the number of talented musicians on stage – what it must have cost to put on a tour like this, a real treat. Plus, to see so many musicians being able to tour again in a post-pandemic world where musicians of course struggled for work was also a pleasure to see.

Saul Davies is incredible on violin, and Jim Glennie‘s guitar made up for my lack of guitars when it was needed most.

Most of all the atmosphere was amazing with James Booth a master of entertaining and crowd pleasing encouraging our seated selves to stand up and move.

An astounding 3 hour gig with all the hits and so many talented musicians – James prove themselves to be as relevant and as exciting today as they ever have been.


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