JAMES / RAZORLIGHT @ THE UTILITA ARENA, BIRMINGHAM, WEDNESDAY 12TH JUNE 2024

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Razorlight are a name that`s familiar to me and having undertaken a brief search I remember their catchy hit song `America` and that Johnny Borrell leads the band. The quartet begin their set with another number `In the Morning` that seems recognisable before sharing an energetic and enjoyable forty-minute run through of songs that are old and new. There were a couple of brand-new tracks with the appealing `Scared of Nothing` fleshed out with the addition of a touring keyboard player and `Dirty Luck`, so I guess the band must be planning a new release at some stage. This biggest reaction of the night was to `Golden Touch` which had this robust crowd singing along and at one stage the band allowed the audience full reign on their own. The groups spirited performance concluded with `America` which ignited all and sundry and the band left the stage after completing what they were there to do, warm up this audience.

Since the global pandemic it`s almost as if James have a new lease of life and have released three albums in three years with `All The Colours of You`, `Be Opened By The Wonderful` which was an orchestrated re-imagining of songs from their career and the delightful `Yummy` which arrived earlier this year. They`ve also hit the road consistently and this was my third time catching the band since their show here with the Happy Mondays in tow in November 2021.

It must be a logistical nightmare to tour manage the band these days as there are nine current members with an additional four-piece choir added for this current tour.

There`s never any fuss as the band walks on stage and blast straight into the wonderfully expansive `She`s a Star` before sharing `Waltzing Along` as singer Tim heads off to be held up at the front of the stage by ecstatic fans before crowd surfing which seemed to understandably cause the security some anxiety. I`m sure that most people had come to hear the “hits,” but I loved the last release `Yummy` so was delighted when they shared several tracks from it throughout the show. There was the harmonic and introspective `Hey`, environmental anthem `Our World`, love ode `Better with You`, mesmerising `Butterfly`, questioning `Shadow Of a Giant` with Saul Davies adding exquisite violin strings and my favourite `Life’s A Fucking Miracle` which is a nigh on stream of consciousness expressing the joys of remaining on this mortal coil, superb.

There were crowd pleasers such as `Say Something`, `Born Of Frustration` and `Five-O` but it was heartening to see Tim go walkabout for `Just Like Fred Astaire` and end up stuck amongst the faithful at the back of the arena while Andy Diagram blasted his trumpet from just behind me at the front of the venue. Tim was unable to get back to the stage so after Saul confirmed the next number, the singer headed back while singing the uplifting `Curse Curse`, enduring obligatory selfies and high fiving all and sundry.

Once back on stage the band sent the crowd wild with `Sit Down`, before closing out with `Tomorrow` and

`Sometimes (Lester Piggot) ` with another cut from `Yummy` with `Mobile God` sandwiched in between. I have to say `Mobile God` was stunning when it finally got going after two false starts and the accompanying visuals have to be seen to be believed.

The band return for a three-song encore which included a final `Yummy` cut with the slightly unnerving `Way Over Your Head` with it`s sentiment of “Raise the dead”, a track I love in `Beautiful Beaches` before ending this two-hour set and sending us home with `Laid` ringing in our ears.

It`s twelve months since I last saw James and I have to say like a classic wine they seem to get better with age. The newer tracks seem more introspective, and life reflective and blend right in with the more familiar and timeless hits. The set changes each night so if you play your cards right you`ll get to hear all your favourites over a few visits. James are one of those bands that seem to be able to play arenas and make you feel included as if you`re in a small venue. There are only a couple of dates left on the current tour but the band return for some Summer festivals in July and August, need I say more.ReplyForward

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