I don't get to see concerts like I used to. Back in college, it seemed like I saw something every couple of weeks. I saw a lot of crap, and I don't mean crap as in "stuff" - I mean, I saw a lot of crap. One band I missed, however is still one of my favorites of all time - James, and it was one of those "missed 'em by that much" things. You see, right about the time the band was due to start touring our area in 1997, James' lead singer, Tim Booth, injured his neck so bad that they had to cancel a bunch of tourdates. They did tour later with that roving crew of crap that Lollapalooza became in the late '90s, but I'd already sworn off of festival shows by that time - few in attendance are there to see who you want to see, making for a hostile environment for good shows. Besides, James would return to the states for their next album, right? As luck turned out that was the last time they came to the US. And to add insult to that injury, they broke up in 2001.
It took a while, but all was not lost, as the band reformed last year with their most notable lineup from the '90s with guitarist Larry Gott and trumpeter Andy Diagram among the ranks, to record one of 2008's best albums, then proceeded to hop across the Atlantic to visit the US for the first time in over a decade. It's a gesture not being dismissed by fans - shows are selling out everywhere. When I got a call from a friend of mine asking if I wanted to go, it was impossible to say no. And go we did, taking a couple days off work to furiously drive 400 miles across the desert for a night with the band in Los Angeles at the beautiful El Rey theater. And it was incredible - one of the best shows I've ever seen. I don't say that lightly, either. It's not because it's been a show 11 years in the making for me, or because it's so rare that I see a show now. It was simply a beautiful, amazing concert experience, the kind of thing every concert should be but so rarely is. It was perfect.