Nowadays, it’s common for a band to vanish at some point in a concert and reappear elsewhere in the venue to do an acoustic segment.
James turned that tradition on its head during a captivating gig at LA’s El Rey Theatre on Thursday – a precursor to Coachella Festival appearances yesterday and April 20.
As the lights went dark, lead singer Tim Booth (pictured left), trumpeter/backing vocalist Andy Diagram and guitarist Larry Gott emerged from behind the soundboard to start the rapturous “Lose Control.” Then the three musicians casually strolled onstage.
Nearly two decades ago, the Manchester, U.K. alt-pop group enjoyed its biggest Stateside success with the album “Laid” and the title track. That stirring hit single was dispatched early in the 90-minute set as the crowd went wild. Surprisingly, nothing from 2010’s solid “The Morning After the Day Before” was played.
Booth shook himself into a frenzy during the compelling “Oh My Heart,” while the bright and punchy “Waterfall” (off excellent 2008 comeback effort “Hey Ma”) was among several show highlights.
Others included the spiritual, uplifting “Seven” and “Say Something” - where Booth climbed atop a railing adjacent to the floor area and was propped up by fans as he made his way to the back of the El Rey - “Born of Frustration” and a mesmerizing “Waltzing Along,” assisted by most of the band on backing vocals.
Noticing a child up front without anything to protect her hearing, the alert front man asked why she didn’t have “ear defenders.”
The septet elevated the transcendental dance qualities of “Play Dead” and drummer David Baynton-Power provided martial beats (along with multi-instrumentalist Saul Davies) on the dramatic '80s-era tune “Medieval.”
Come encore time, a rapturous “Out to Get You” made expert use of space and had an extended violin ending by Davies. Finally, both “Sometimes” and “Tomorrow” were shimmering pop gems as always.
Photos by Ida Miller