james - Scarborough Open Air Theatre 09.09.2021
Thursday the 9th of September saw the latest in a strong run of concerts at Scarborough Open Air Theatre, a venue which is rapidly becoming one of my favourites. The acoustics are fantastic for an outdoor arena and the atmosphere is always tremendous.
James arrived with a high degree of anticipation, I’ve seen them live before and know how good they can be, I was hoping they would live up to their own very high standards.
There were two support bands, local band The Feens and a band from over the other side of the Pennines, The K’s.
Local Scarborough band, The Feens kicked the night off to a surprisingly large crowd given how early they were on. I suspect this may have been the largest crowd they have played to and it showed at the start of their set, they were a bit nervous and tentative but their confidence grew as they played. They have two lead vocalists, on bass and guitar, and of the two I would say the one who sang less, the bassist, seems the more sure of themselves. I think they need to work a bit on their stage presence. That being said I think they put on a really good show. They are very much of the Indie Rock persuasion, with hints of Nirvana, the LA’s and Liam Gallagher. All in all I enjoyed them, as did a lot of the crowd. I think if they work a bit on their stage presence then they could have something.
The K’s took the stage as the penultimate warm up act to an almost full crowd, this is one band who are not lacking in stage craft, they were quite simply fantastic. Their lead singer can sing but he also has the banter with the crowd who were clearly enjoying what they were watching and getting into it. They reminded me of early period Artic Monkeys, that full on attack on stage that just blows crowds away. They even threw me completely by covering Dirty Old Town at the start of one song to morph it into one of their own tracks. This is a band who are clearly going places, cocky but not arrogant, with tremendous songs and a charismatic front man. There was nothing about their set I didn’t enjoy, even the lightening going on behind the stage didn’t detract from their show.
The K’s had the crowd fired up for James, would they keep up the atmosphere? Of course they did, they are one of Britain’s best love bands and they were clearly in the mood, Tim was back in his native Yorkshire and clearly the whole band were in the mood to put on a show. As they have been known to do they messed around with the set list and changed their plans during the show. At one point leading to a bit of confusion when Tim thought they were doing one song and the rest of the band thought it was another.
They, in their own words, played some of their more obscure songs, but what songs! They even played one they had written in the 80’s. It was made clear they hadn’t turned up just to pay the hits (although they played pretty much all of their biggest songs) but instead felt they were playing to fans that had been with them on their journey and indulged both themselves and their hardcore fans. Quite a few songs from the new album made it into the set and nearly all of them felt like the had always been there, there were a couple that didn’t quite hit the highs of the rest of the music but I suspect that’s because they still learning how to play them live.
The storm was a constant presence but the heavy rain didn’t dampen the crowds spirits, every song was sung and/or danced along to, everything Tim said was lapped up, his unique, wonderful, dance style loved by a crowd who had clearly come to enjoy themselves and wouldn’t let a bit of rain get in the way of their party. We were warned that the band might need to leave the stage if the storm got too close but thankfully that wasn’t an issue. Although they had requested 5 minutes warning of that eventually as they had a song in mind to play should the worst happen, I wonder if you can guess which one? Come on Thunder would have sounded tremendous at that point….
If I had one complaint it was that the gig had to finish, it felt like one of those nights where the band and the crowd were in perfect syncopation, even the confusion about the song to be played added to the night, making you feel this was a gig you would remember for a long while.
If you haven’t seen James live then you should, Tim Booth is one of British musics great frontmen, every member of the band is spot on, even the newer members who clearly haven’t been there from the start. If anything this is a band who are getting better and better. Go see them!
The K's - https://www.facebook.com/theksofficial
The Feens - https://www.facebook.com/feensband
Review - Iain McClay