Live Review: James – Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield 04.05.23

Jason Siddall

A trip to Sheffield City Hall for the sold out ‘James Lasted’ Orchestral Tour.

A totally different twist on the music tonight, the band were joined on stage by conductor Joe Duddell with the ORCA22 Orchestra and featuring the Manchester Inspirational Voices choir. Having tried to do a headcount I would estimate there were around 40 people on stage, plus crew. So you get the was huge. These types of shows just don’t happen very often in the UK, mainly due to the high costs involved, it’s clear to see why the tour sold out so quickly. 

James have a big back catalogue and having sold millions of records they have a loyal fan base.   Opening up with ‘Laid’ the band took us through a 25 song set which was split into two parts with a short interval in between for topping up on refreshments. The quality of musicianship and vocal backing was as expected outstanding as was the sound quality. I can’t possibly do service to this in a written review, you really would need to experience it for yourself. 

Singer Tim Booth, clearly enjoying the occasion, asked the audience politely to put away mobile phones during the performance, I guess in a plea to live a little in the moment..a good call. Although he did relent for one song in the show to allow for some memories to be captured. 

Tim admitted that having such a huge backing band on stage was at times challenging, as he described ‘mixing the chaotic nature of the band with the professionalism of the accompanying musicians is a scary situation’ This fear did not materialise though, as it all worked together fantastically well.

There were many great moments tonight with solo vocal features from members of the choir and huge orchestral dynamics, it really was a joy to experience. Highlights for me was hit song ‘She’s A Star’ with the Sheffield crowd singing along. Another was Tim taking over the conductor’s role randomly for a rendition of ‘Bolero’ which was very amusing. The bands biggest hit, ’Sit Down’ was stripped back and re-worked from the original but this didn’t lose any impact.

Closing with ‘Many Faces’ no one could have left tonights show feeling disappointed. The value for money factor alone should have been enough, but in truth, this is the best touring show you can experience in the UK at this moment in time. I feel very privileged to have been asked personally to attend and review/photograph the show, shout out to ‘Murray Chalmers PR”, thank you!

The show has been recorded for a live DVD and all of the songs featured tonight will be on the bands latest double album release ‘Be Opened By the Wonderful: 40 Years Orchestrated’ I would urge any fans to pick this album up on its 9th June release.

To sum up, a superb night, an eclectic mix of amazing songs, James on top form and stellar accompanying musicianship. As good as it gets..

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