Edinburgh Summer Sessions 2019: Indie-pop veterans James mix up 90s hits with modern tunes at Princes Street Gardens gig

The band James perform in Princes Street Gardens as part of the Summer Sessions. Pic: Greg Macvean
The band James perform in Princes Street Gardens as part of the Summer Sessions. Pic: Greg Macvean
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Indie-pop veterans James made a return to the Capital for part five of the Summer Sessions on Thursday.

They’ve been a thing since the early eighties, cutting their Mancunian teeth supporting the likes of the mighty Fall and the Smiths back then and they must be the only band in history to turn down an album deal with Factory records, instead recording an EP for them.

Pic: Greg Macvean

Pic: Greg Macvean

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At 15 albums in, they’re happy enough to mix it up a bit, not relying too heavily on a 90s greatest hits package but they’re in the entertainment business and know what the punters want, kicking off with She’s a Star from 1997 before coming up to date with last year’s What’s It All About.

They’re not fans of the outdoor gig sound limiters, tonight lamenting that they have to alternate slow, quiet songs with their more raucous outings and also advising the crowd that they’re not allowed to sing along. Best of luck with that.

A wee tech issue with the bass causes a bit of an improv moment a few songs in but as it leads to a superb, pared back version of their biggest hit (and wedding favourite) Sit Down, which saw front man Tim Booth getting in about the front rows, nobody minded.

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They’re known for their political leanings and on Hank, the opener from last year’s Living In Extraordinary Times, the rather bizarre political situation in the States is pored over; small hands, the NRA and Columbine all getting a namecheck. Apparently, this song did not go down well over the pond. Can’t think why.

Pic: Greg Macvean

Pic: Greg Macvean

Big hits Laid and Come Home complete the main section and more 90s fan favourites Sounds and Top Of The World ended the evening.

All in, an excellently tight performance from a reliably quality outfit.

James – 15th August – Princes Street Gardens

5 out of 7 stars

Pic: Greg Macvean

Pic: Greg Macvean