The James Girl At The End Of The World tour now leaves London and heads East, to Norwich and the tiny venue holding 1500 (according to their website, though it felt much smaller than that) at the University of East Anglia.
A lovely sunny drive out to Norwich sees us arrive in good time – though because of the rules of the venue, there is a sound curfew in place on campus until 5pm, which means that the band can’t soundcheck til then, which also means that their soundcheck is cut short and the VIP soundcheck also delayed. Additionally, The Slow Readers Club are unable to make the gig tonight due to personal issues and a local artist, Birds of Hell, has stepped in at the last minute with an unusual set of songs written mostly about his dysfunctional family which sadly, I didn’t catch.
In the VIP Soundcheck, the band played Walk Like You, Curse Curse and We’re Going To Miss You – which Tim explains may or may not make the final setlist.
The venue is definitely intimate – there is a small area in front of the stage, with four steps up in a semi-circle around it, and another area around, with bar and merchandise areas at the back. It is certainly a very different feel than the night in Brixton and this intimacy is apparent throughout the gig.
The band take to the stage, and Tim tells us that they have adapted the setlist for the venue and that they thought a Monday night audience in Norwich needed easing into the gig, although he promises that it will soon be back to more upbeat songs. For the first time I can remember, they start the set with the sublime Top Of The World, and this is only the start of the surprises.
Saul’s violin brings the song to its climax and the crowd are so attentive – and so unlike so many larger venues – Tim gets to finish his “It’s so cold” without the usual chatter and premature applause cutting in.
They continue the softly softly approach with Dear John, an appreciative crowd listening without talking and also to Tim’s explanation of the story behind Move Down South, which ends with beautiful harmonies. To My Surprise is followed by We’re Going To Miss You – Tim explaining the story behind the song and the band and audience singing along at the end – Saul drops into a stunning violin solo, joined by Andy on his trumpet – Tim says they’ve made them all so relaxed that they’re going to be improvising all night.
Alvin is next – Tim tells us about the Paris Match people not making the interview and not finding out that Tim hasn’t a clue what he’s singing about – and also that it is names after Alvin Stardust, who died the week they were recording the track. After cutting Waking from following it at Brixton, tonight it’s reinstated, Andy’s trumpet cutting through and sounding fabulous in this tiny space.
Again, in a change from its place in the encore, Tomorrow is next – the audience singing along from the first word to the last, dancing and turning the already hot venue into an inferno, especially when Tim goes for another foray into the audience. Afterwards, safely back on stage, he tells us about his problem up in Glasgow when he went surfing, although he mistakes it for Edinburgh and Saul corrects him – and about the time when someone untied his shoe and made off with it, but Tim ended up at the back of the auditorium with him “Give me my fucking shoe back!” and the thief was so shocked he did!
Into Sometimes and another crowd singalong and into Bitch, its grinding intro and Tim’s gyrations sending the East Anglian crowd into a mass of hot dancing people. The distinctive drums of PS kick in next and during the gorgeous violin solo, you can hear a pin drop, not a word, not a bit of chatter from the crowd – if we could have gigs like this all the time! Andy and Saul combine at the end for another stunning improvisation and they slip into Feet of Clay. Tim chats happily between most songs and you feel that he is also impressed with the attentiveness of the crowd.
The acoustic section is next – with Tim commenting that they’re so relaxed they feel like they’re playing in their front room – She’s A Star greeted like an old friend and also What For, which has changed and become stronger each time they have played it – this time with Jim going into a fabulous bass solo which leaves no room this time for trumpet, so Andy just sings the backing vocals and enjoys a breather.
Honest Joe is also becoming an established ‘oldie’ on this tour and doesn’t faze this audience at all, although by now we are feeling like we’re fully clothed in a sauna. Sound kicks in and the audience again clap and sing and dance – with Andy again bathed in UV light with his LED lit trumpet, but almost running out of breath and the end and having to take a moment to get his breath back before being helped back on stage by Tim!
Tim says that most bands would end on this and leave the stage, but not them – they have a beautiful new song they want to play us – Attention – but they have a false start with it and in the lull, someone shouts out “You’re getting away with it!” and Saul starts up the familiar intro – the crowd take it up and sing along and the band go with it and we are treated to the most impromptu of setlist songs ever – Tim tells us afterwards that it had been decided that they weren’t going to play it at all on this tour!
The encore sees Attention reinstated, with Moving On and Nothing But Love concluding a most intimate and unexpected treat – one which couldn’t have happened at any other venue and those present – whether they knew it or not – had just had a totally unique experience!
Your Girl is take a slight break and cannot make Bournemouth – see you in Llandudno!
- Top Of The World
- Dear John
- Move Down South
- To My Surprise
- We’re Going To Miss You
- Feet Of Clay
- She’s A Star
- What For
- Honest Joe
- Getting Away With It
- Moving On
- Nothing But Love
Video courtesy of Nigel Mayes
Video courtesy of Nigel Mayes
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