Castlefield Bowl is a phenomenal venue, regardless of who is playing there. It is not used for concerts very often but every year Sounds of the City takes full advantage of the outdoor performance space that is surrounded by the buildings of Deansgate and Castlefield in the city centre. It turns the centre of Castlefield into a festival for a few nights in early July, which is exactly what it did in 2016.

The Slow Readers Club are the second support act who come on prior James’ performance. Previously this year, they have already supported The Charlatans and played Dot to Dot Festival. They have supported James before on tour last year and seem to be very comfortable doing so again and are also very grateful for the opportunity of being able to perform alongside an extremely established band like James, thanking the band before their last few songs. Being from Manchester themselves, they seem very pleased about performing at Castlefield Bowl and showing their indie-electro sound to a whole new audience. They also mention their upcoming headline show at the Albert Hall later this year (24th November).

Even before the gig started, it felt like this was almost an exclusive gathering of people. There were plenty of people wearing James band t-shirts. Everyone in attendance seems to be a huge fan of the band. A lot of people know all the words to the songs and people are buzzing with excitement long before the band made their appearance. The venue filled up relatively quickly, with a variety of ages and faces. Not long after The Slow Readers Club have finished, it is time for James’ opening number.

Lead singer Tim Booth’s interpretive dancing is a definite highlight of the gig, presenting a change to some other frontmen’s slick and rockstar-esque appearance. James present themselves as a band who “fuck up” but they do certainly try to look out for their fans, with Booth asking security to escort someone out of the venue for throwing a bottle halfway through their set. This was a very special show, with the band playing new songs, ‘Busted’ being one of them, as well as old favourites such as ‘Sometimes’, the latter of which of course encouraged the crowd to passionately chant the line “Sometimes when I look into your eyes, I swear I can see your soul’, again reinforcing the suggestion that there are a lot of extremely enthusiastic James fans at this gig.

The set ends with an encore, featuring probably their most well-known and best loved song, ‘Laid’. The crowd then disperse, still buzzing and chanting the lyrics to some of the songs that the band had played over their mammoth two hour set, only after James had taken some of the audience members on stage. As always, Castlefield Bowl is a stunning venue and James showed that they are not only capable of putting on a show there but they can do it extremely well.

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Sophie Nebesniak

Hello! I am Sophie! Previously Head of Music at Fuse FM, I review gigs and occasionally talk rubbish on the radio. Guy Garvey and Alex Turner are my idols. I have no idea what I am doing most of the time but I once met three members of The 1975 outside Manchester Academy at one in the morning so that’s okay I guess.