03.17.1994 James Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA
We took BART into the city for this one, and the threat of the last train forced us out of the concert before the encore was over. I didn’t mind though. Looking back at the setlist, I recognize a lot of songs now that I didn’t then because James released two albums simultaneously – Laid, for which they are most famous in the US anyhow, and Wah Wah which was recorded during the same time and I bought but never listened to beyond track two. Well, track two was “Pressure’s On” and that was the first song on the setlist. The rest of the set was almost exclusively chosen from the two albums and that meant death for my attention span. James live act at the time was a deft manipulation of their studio cuts, much in the same way that Dave Matthews has a reputation for long, elegiac interpretations, James managed to turn any one song on its ears. It wasn’t enjoyable. The songs often ended up as extended remixes that melted into one another – artful but too artful for a teenager who just wanted to sing along.
I discovered James on 120 Minutes, an MTV program of ages ago where they played video hits from bands no one ever heard of. The video was for “Sit Down” which was their breakthrough hit, but I think they’re better known in the US for the song “Laid”. They didn’t tour for years in the US because they had been dropped from their record label in the states, and their last US tour in 1997 was aborted when the lead singer, Tim Booth, was injured. I had tickets to that tour; it was going to be at the Huntridge in Las Vegas. I was very disappointed that it was cancelled. They never came back to play in the States.
Don’t Wait That Long
Born of Frustration
Low Low Low
Out To Get You