It’s been a hectic month for the Rock ‘n Roll Animal. Truth be told, job-hunting has taken up most of my time, but I’ve made time for fun too. Fun, for me, almost always equals live music and I’ve seen some amazing shows this past month.
Brit-pop darlings James played The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on September 30. James are one of those bands whose music makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. I saw them two years ago at The Phoenix and I still get chills thinking about the 20 minute audience sing-a-long to “Sometimes”.
The QE Theatre is a seated venue, which left me and my friends worried about having room to dance. On the plus side, the venue is gorgeous, with plush red velvet seats. We settled in and waited for the show to start. When the lights went down, there was a moment of silence, and then we heard Tim Booth’s rich warm voice singing “Sit Down”. Except it was coming from the back of the venue. We turned around to see him walking down the aisle, singing while an acoustic guitar played walked behind him. He climbed onto the back of someone’s seat and sang from there while everyone around him lost their heads with joy and delight. One by one, the other band members came onstage and joined in, and by the end of the song, Booth had climbed onstage. Easily one of the best opening numbers I’ve seen at a concert.
Booth’s dancing can only be described as a full body expression of the purest joy, and he encourage us all to join in. “Toronto, I think we know each other well enough”, he said, “that I can be honest with you. You have a reputation for being a bit restrained. We want you to fucking enjoy yourselves”. And we did, oh we did, and the band rewarded us with not oft-heard gems like “Jam-J” from the sorely underrated Wah Wah and “Stutter”. “Laid” was a crowd-pleaser, and when Booth invited 30 or so people to get onstage and dance with him, he was somewhat taken aback to find most of the crowd trying to join them. Other highlights included “Getting Away With It”, “Out To Get You” and a sublime version of “Sometimes” ended with another glorious audience sing-a-long. Part of me was hoping they would surprise us with “Born of Frustration”, but it was not to be. It didn’t matter though, because James had given us a joyful evening of music that speaks of hope, connecti0n and love.