A review of James headlining the Garden stage on the 3rd of August, 2013.

James at Belladrum 2013

I’ve been a James fan since the days of ‘Seven’ and ‘Goldmother’ but tonight was the first time I’d seen them live after twenty-odd years of following them. I can remember watching them play at Glastonbury on TV back in the early nineties whilst my friends were all there and feeling absolutely gutted that I couldn’t make it. I also missed them at Bella a few years ago and had come to conclusion that my chance had been missed. Not so!

Opening with ‘Getting Away With It (all messed up)’ Tim Booth shimmies about in that peculiar dance where he looks like a puppet with its strings cut. For ‘Come Home’ he stepped into, or rather onto, the crowd, supporting him as he sang the chorus. After ‘Tomorrow’ we were given a preview of a couple of new songs, ‘Moving On’ was an upbeat new tune inspired by a friend who had a brush with death last year and sounds as good as anything from ‘Seven’ and ‘Laid’ era James. The other new song “Curse, Curse Curse” had certainly came with a great deal of expectancy and equally impressed.

Introduced as a “song about a man who set himself on fire purely for entertainment”. ‘Johnny Yen’ was accompanied by Fire Poi dancers at the front of the stage. Tim joined them towards the end of the song singing ‘put him out his misery’ as he writhed and cavorted close to the flames. This was probably the slowest part of the set and they were in danger of losing the attention of some of the audience but a barnstorming ‘Waltzing Along’ quickly pulled us all back in.

James at Belladrum 2013

I suspect most of the audience were waiting for one song on particular and so ‘Sit Down’ duly gets one of the loudest cheers of the night. In true headliner rock band fashion Belladrum are encouraged to sing the chorus on their own as he again stands on the obliging spectators at he front. I’ll confess that it’s never been one of my favourite James songs and the extended singalong left me feeling that it was at the expense of other songs, I would love to have heard ‘Born of Frustration’ but Tim himself commented that they usually play for two hours so some of us were bound to be disappointed as some tracks are omitted.

By this point I was getting concerned, the end of their allotted time was quickly approaching and they hadn’t played any songs from Laid. That album was one of the records that I played constantly from my late teens to early twenties and even now is one I still listen to every few weeks. I needn’t have worried though. ‘Sometimes’ and a belting version of ‘Laid’ finished the night and indeed the weekend on a high.

Happy Birthday Belladrum. You were great, here’s to next year.

Photos by Thomas Bisset, click  to contact the photographer.

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I've always loved music and spent my late teens and early twenties playing guitar in various bands on Lewis and Aberdeen. Other than playing in some truly terrifying pubs in Aberdeen not much came of it and life became focused on family and having a 'proper' job. Inverness Gigs is an outlet for me to quell my inner frustrated musician and the caliber of local acts has even inspired me to take my own music more seriously again. Who knows, one day I might venture back on stage under the fierce scrutiny of an Inverness Gigs reviewer! You can contact Toby direct at Toby@Igi.gs