Middlesbrough `Evening Gazette' newspaper on Friday 21st March 1997

Appearing in the Middlesbrough `Evening Gazette' newspaper on March 21st 1997

ON THE BEAT - with Robert Nichols
Subtitled - "Singer with Shrug, goes out and about on the music beat"

Hello again, I've come down to earth a bit since last week - but only just. I'm now floating several inches above the carpet. However, I've put my heads together and come to a decision. With all these gigs going on all over the shop, life has been getting somewhat hectic. This column has degenerated into a shopping list. Not my shopping list of course, because I don't believe in the things. I just copy the person with the trolley infront, it's far easier. I just hope their not out shopping for Bonzo again, that Pedigree Anyway, what I was trying to say is that this week I've decided to home in on one gig and this week's gig of the week is James at Middlesbrough Town Hall, a most prestigious affair indeed. Hardboby filled the first support slot. They're no strangers to Middlesbrough having played recently at the Arena. Once again they really impressed with their big, big sound. A strikingly beautiful singer, with a strikingly odd haircut and a strikingly A slither of jazz and a splash of blues from the trombone and the trumpet. Carmel summed them up perfectly "Garbage in the style of James Bond". Shaken not stirred. Silver Sun are another band who've darkened these shores a good many times of late. Pretty lucky for us really because they're a marvelous act. To the left of the stage the introverted guitarist stands hunched up twitching violently. His extravagant fringe flopping over his frets as he petulently plucks at the strings between sudden, spasmodic bursts of ego and extravagance manifesting themsel In the centre the singer/guitarist dressed in bowling shirt and US college nerd specs, jerks across the floor as if receiving volleys of electricity through his guitar. Silver Sun blast their way through a set of velocity guitar punk but the twist is in the high kicking Beach Boys harmonies. Straight off the Californian beaches and repackaged with attitude. Middlesbrough Town Hall lapped it up and wanted more. We thought they'd gone for good but James have bounced back. The recent single She's a Star sounded like a familiar old friend and three years since they were last in town James were back to their finest, new fiddly guitarist or not. They powered on with a biggy Come Home. The whirly keyboards drew vocalist Tim Booth into a dervish special. Arms swirling above his head and body bending like a rubber man. Behind the band several suspended discs took the full brunt of the psychedelic storm. Meanwhile the band beat on, climbing to altitude for the silkiest of chorus lines. The set was a composite of old and new. You could instantly tell the difference, as 1200 people mouthed along to every single word of their favourites. Judging by some of the night's power plays, the new album Whiplash should be fairly splendid. Old or new, no matter, the applause was frenzied and wrenched from the heart, often spontaneously breaking out before the songs were even completed. When the time came for the final encore the choice was inevitable. Put it this way no-one, but no-one at all was sitting "that" song out. To be totally honest I was never really a great fan of James - but after this gig I'm going to have to seriously reconsider.