James At Glastonbury Review: Manchester veterans bring spiritual stadium rock vibes

After making time for CBeebies, Tim Booth and James bring communal ecstasy to the final day of Glastonbury 2024

Tim Booth Glastonbury 30 June 2024

by Ian Harrison |
Updated on

This year James went straight to number one with eighteenth LP Yummy and played two nights at the 02 arena. Yet frontman Tim Booth still had time, onsite at Glastonbury, to read Emily Hughes’ book Wild as a bedtime story for CBeebies. However, in their nine-member formation, plus a discretely placed onstage statuette of the elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha, there is no soporific intent in James’ 3pm slot on the Other Stage.

With Booth in a woolly hat and fur coat of pale tones, and looking not unlike a younger relative of Ben Kingsley, opener Sound is a slow, incantatory eruption, soon graced with Booth’s idiosyncratic eel-in-the-seaweed dance moves. When Madchester-era hit Come Home follows immediately the field is theirs. One song later, after the self-explanatory Life's A Fucking Miracle, which finds Booth being carried aloft in the audience (he continues to sing), they do signature hit Sit Down and the field is theirs even more. As James-style flowers fill the TV monitors, this surging song of communality becomes that rarest of beasts: spiritual stadium rock.

Playing some of your old faves so early on may be a rash move, but they transcend this without breaking a sweat.  Booth warns us that Shadow Of A Giant is a “listening song,” but as he sits down and sings of disappearance to cello and piano, it’s a startling moment: 2001’s Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) gets everyone singing the chorus, and is the song that MOJO gets to see the obliging Booth on the barrier to. Sometimes (Lester Piggott) closes things out in huge style, with lightning on the screens, choral singers and a Glastonbury-ready conceit that the soul is visible in the eyes.

After an hour Booth apologises for running out of time, and it feels like James could easily have gone on. Yet even truncated, their performance was an invaluable reminder that this extraordinary festival is counting down to its end, and we owe it to ourselves to make the most of it. Today, James were superb.



Come Home

Life's a Fucking Miracle

Sit Down

Out to Get You

Shadow of a Giant

 Way Over Your Head

Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)

 Beautiful Beaches

Sometimes (Lester Piggott)

Stay on MOJO4MUSIC for complete coverage of Glastonbury 2024’s best music including ColdplayIDLESSqueezePaul Heaton and Fatboy Slim's Housemartin's reunionDexysLCD SoundsystemPJ HarveyThe Last Dinner PartyMichael KiwanukaOrbital and more.

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