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Taking communion with rock legends.

REVIEW: James, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff FANS of James will tell you the evergreen Mancunian legends have never received the praise their rich history deserves, and that in singer Tim Booth they have one of the most underrated frontmen in rock.

Billed as An Evening with James, this was an opportunity to set the record straight to illuminate a varied cross-section of songs from their back catalogue and have them beautifully interpreted by the 22-piece Orchestra Of The Swan and 16-strong choir from the Manchester Consort; all the pieces conducted by classical composer and recent Elbow collaborator Joe Duddell.

Booth had said that to undertake such an ambitious tour would lose them money but the cost would be more than counterweighted by the experience and the opportunity to reframe the group in a different context.

Both he and they couldn't have wished for a more satisfactory outcome on a night when the show transcended a mere gig and became something approaching a holy communion.

Purposefully eschewing their greatest hits to seek out those compositions that lent themselves to classical interpretation, the set was a careerspanning eye-opener that included songs that had barely been played in years and one The Lake, that had never seen the light of day in the live arena before.

From the tender and elegiac Dream Thrum, through to indie anthems Say Something and She's A Star reborn as something altogether more otherworldly, this was a set that bewitched and surprised in equal measure.

Booth sensed this as he went walkabout into the crowd during Feel Like Fred Astaire much to the delight of those who stretched out a hand to greet him; a young lady sensed this when she burst out of the crowd to jump on stage and dance with wild abandon with the singer during rollicking set highlight Sometimes; and we all sensed it at the climax of the show amidst the swirling maelstrom of strings and voices when we looked at each other with wild-eyed astonishment at what we had witnessed.

Some nights magic happens and we were blessed to be beholden to those utterly wonderful forces at work. * Dave Owens
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 25, 2011
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