James - M.E.N Arena - 7.12.01

They may go down in the history books for one song and one song only, but James were Manchester's most prolific sons. The Smiths may always have a special place in people hearts, the Roses may have spanned a generation of imitators and Oasis may have the millions in the bank but James were always a little different. Fronted by a tantric dancing former buddhist vegetarian grandson on the former member of the Salvation Army would always be a little difficult to stomach by a mainstream audience but with a multi-million selling "Greatest Hits" album behind them they managed to win over the hearts of British public.

It was always going to be emotional tonight being the last Manchester gig with Tim Booth, but you really can't measure just how much. For this writer James were what you'd call the first proper band I followed with a passion. The band that made me leap from just listening to music passively on the radio to hunting out every obscure record they've ever released and then some. Tonight also was never going to be the best gig they've ever done...it was too emotional for both the band and the crowd to ever meet expectations...they could never consciously meet the highs on playing G-Mex at the height of Madchester or playing a free gig for fans on a barge in the centre of Manchester

Its the oldies that really brought back the memories. "Hymn From A Village" and "Johnny Yen" especially for the people who'd bothered checking out their history after they first heard "Sit Down" or for some of the people in the audience that would have been down at the front of the gigs in 1984. After several false starts with technical difficulties it wasn't until the encore that people really took in that it was the end of an era. Tim Booth crooning in one corner and Saul in the other corner for "Top Of The World". For most bands it would have been a perfect ending but it wouldn't have been a James gig without "Come Home" or "Sit Down" which in my opinion is just about the perfect way to end a gig ever.

As the band begrudgingly leave the stage our thoughts are scattered from the past to the present to future. James as a band have vowed they with continue without Tim Booth but what is to come is anyone's guess. Whatever the future for both parties I for one will be down the front cheering them on.

Alex McCann