Gig review: James at First Direct Arena, Leeds

YOU could imagine hearing someone enter the stage singing “We’re all going to die” would leave you fearing the worst for the chances of an enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

Tim Booth, of James (Picture: Cuffe and Taylor)

However, James frontman Tim Booth, in almost 40 years performing with the indie rockers, has always had the ability to surprise and engage.

Almost two hours later, after opening their gig at First Direct Arena in Leeds with Zero which includes that aforementioned cheery lyric, he and his band once more have an appreciative crowd in raptures.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

They truly sound as good as ever.

Booth, an ardent Leeds United fan who hails from those parts, has always enthused about how he loves playing in the city - “how you doing hometown!?” he screams after She’s A Star - and that is plain to see, especially when Come Home is fittingly delivered.

Before that, only a smattering of their hits are given an early airing including Born Of Frustration.

More emphasis is given to their current album All The Colours Of You including the eponymous title track, Zero and Isabella before, later in the show, the delicate Miss America and the excellent Beautiful Beaches, a song which shows they have not lost any of their ability to write epic tunes.

After Gold Mother, Booth exclaims: “How weird a band we are writing songs about childbirth!”

The ‘weirdness’ and the scope of subject matter James dips into is what keeps them interesting though, not to mention their musical talent which remains so sharp.

Hymn From A Village is a surprise blast from the past, Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) goes down brilliantly and the mystical Sound, from 1992, rises and soars wonderfully before an encore of the anthemic Sit Down and fellow crowd-pleaser Laid.