James made a triumphant return to their hometown and brought a full orchestra and a gospel choir along for the ride! Playing for two nights at Manchester’s Apollo, the band treated the sold-out crowd to a number of their greatest hits, with the backing of the Orchestra led by Joe Duddell, who has arranged some of James’s finest pieces for a series of special performances.

This series of shows marks 40 years since the band formed, so to witness this in Manchester is rather special.

At the band’s request, no phones are permitted, and no clapping. Both are unusual and no doubt difficult to abide by for regular gig goers who will be used to both snapping and noise making. It is clear why when the music starts up, we soon realise that this is an extra special spine-tingling experience and no ordinary James gig (not that were ever ordinary!).

The Orchestra, teamed with the beautiful harmonies of Manchester Inspirational Voices Choir, as well as Tim Booth’s vocals and stage presence is really quite something to behold. The audience managed to follow the rules, implemented so as not to put off the timing of the orchestra, but as the old favourites were rolled out it was simply too difficult to not clap and dance along to ‘Sit Down’ and of course ‘Born of Frustration’.

Booth never seems to age, and at 63 works the stage like he did 40 years ago, and equally strong are his vocals which cut through the huge ensemble perfectly. It wasn’t just the classics we we treated to, the band rolled out some new material, a track called ‘Love Make a Fool’, which will feature on their upcoming album ‘Be Opened by the Wonderful’.

This album will be a collection of the bands most rare and loved songs which will feature the 22 piece orchestra, so if you were unable to get a ticket for this truly magical series of shows, this would certainly be the next best thing!

James continue this extra special orchestral tour with a number of UK dates left, including Blackpool, Nottingham, Bath and London. You can also catch the band at various festivals this summer, Y Not and Latitude being just two. The band are also performing at the Piece Hall in Halifax as part of their summer season of events in July.

Further information can be found HERE