– Manchester Arena –



James’ gig on Friday 3rd December 2021 at the AO arena in Manchester was phenomenal. There are very few words to describe it. A lot of people were drunk on alcohol and live music. Being my first gig after lockdown, I honestly cannot tell if my judgement was clouded or it was actually that good. We’ve been inside for a long time and I, personally, had not been to any shows during that time and had experienced very little live music.

Before the concert, there was an eerie atmosphere around – like something huge was about to happen. The arena would not be my first choice of venue for a gig like this, I would have chosen the Apollo or a similar venue but perhaps the capacity of a venue like the arena was needed for the James fanbase.

Happy Mondays opened the gig and were the warm up act to this mega Manchester rave. They could have taken the stage for the entire gig, but that just was not in the plan for the night. They played their usual setlist of ‘Loose Fit’ and ‘Step On’ (along with loads of other songs) with our dear Bez dancing and leaping about the stage.

The first thing that needs to be said about James’ set is the lighting. The lighting at the back of the stage was incredible, they had various small singular lights that twinkled and a big central light that looked like the head on their latest album cover. The bright lights added to the atmosphere by emphasising the ‘rave’ vibe. Any light technician would have been proud of it. James, headed by singer and frontman Tim Booth, played the audience a plethora of tunes old and new. A lot of the content of the show floated around their latest album ‘All of the Colours of You’.

At the end of their set they played their classic hits, such as ‘Laid’, ’Sometimes’ and ‘Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)’. After the gig, people were literally crawling out of the standing area and getting taxis and lifts to go home. The highs that people were experiencing in the arena must have been really high and may be reminiscent of past times around the 1990s, when both bands were signed to Factory’s record label. The classic songs they played are ageless and Manchester was the perfect place to hold a concert like this.

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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.