Moses Robinson, WireImage An arrest warrant for aggravated assault has…
- Posted on Sep 29th 2010 10:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
Tommy Jackson, Redferns
Actually, "Chin up!" might have been more like it. Booth is a frontman of the Bono and Michael Stipe variety, and on a tune like 'Sit Down,' he's got the social-worker sincerity it takes to climb up on the railing and urge, "Those who feel the breath of sadness, sit down next to me." He did this dressed in blue genie jeans, a beanie and a black blazer, and while he kept fans' heads turned toward the back of the club, his bandmates snuck onto the stage, ready to join the final chorus.
It was a neat trick by a group not afraid of grand gestures. James has made records with Brian Eno, and with seven musicians, it can do U2 big, but they're too hippy-dippy an outfit to go full-on stadium. Calling Booth and company the Dave Matthew Band of Brit-pop isn't quite right -- those, after all, would be fighting words -- but how many Smiths followers mix horn, violin and the kinds of spastic white-guy dance moves Booth busted all evening?
Whether playing old favorites -- the cathartic sing-along 'Say Something' and 10-minute closer 'Sound' were among the highlights -- or 'Tell Her I Said So,' one of several selections from 'The Morning After the Night Before,' the group's recently released two-disc album, Booth writhed and contorted atop dense, glistening musical backings.
A typical James song features rolling acoustic guitars, shining electric leads, heartbeat bass, yearning keyboard accents, a rousingly simple trumpet line and, most importantly, David Baynton-Power's kick drum -- the pervasive pulse that, throughout Tuesday's two-hour performance, dictated how fast the girls standing on speakers and various other platforms around Webster's perimeter shook their hips.
It all culminated with the penultimate 'Laid,' James' best-known song, during which Booth scanned the audience for folks who "know how to stand on a f---ing stage and dance." He handpicked a half-dozen or so people, everyone from a 10-year-old boy to a still-foxy 40-something woman who probably saw James back in their '90s heyday.
Another woman, perhaps in her 20s, challenged Booth to a dance-off in the tune's closing seconds. She was good, but he lunged, shook and doubled over like a tangled marionette, or Michael Stipe simultaneously losing his religion and his equilibrium. Booth moved with total disregard for how silly he looked, using the whole of his body, putting honesty in motion.