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Image Entertainment presents
James: Getting Away With It....Live (2002)

"Moved out of the house,
so you moved next door.
I locked you out,
you cut a hole in the wall.
I found you sleeping next to me,
I thought I was alone.
You're driving me crazy,
when are you coming home?"

- lyrics from Laid

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: March 03, 2004

Stars: Tim Booth, Saul Davies, Mark Hunter, Dave Baynton-Power, Michael Kulas, Jim Glennie, Adrian Oxaal
Other Stars: Larry Gott, Andy Diagram
Director: Dick Carruthers

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language)
Run Time: 01h:52m:00s
Release Date: February 24, 2004
UPC: 014381216820
Genre: music


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A ABB+ A-

DVD Review

Manchester's James was another of the too-numerous-to-mention circle of largely unknown bands that I have had the pleasure to enjoy over the years (it seems to be the story of my life), that for reasons I will never be able to understand never achieved nearly the level of global success they seemed to really deserve, barely registering a blip on the stateside musical radar despite a small but faithful following in Europe.

Led by Tim Booth's lilting yodel of a voice, James spent nearly 20 years making smart, swirling anthemic guitar-driven pop songs that spoke proudly to the loner, the oddball, the atheist, the romantic or the dreamer, with an always identifiable subtext of angst-laden desperation that was tempered by heaps of finely crafted hooks on top of finely crafted hooks.

This 2002 concert, recorded before a gloriously manic crowd in the band's hometown of Manchester, was unfortunately their swan song, a bittersweet coda that now stands as a chronicle of the final performance of a band facing a number of obstacles, most notably the loss of a couple of key members, including Booth, who after all this time decided he had simply had enough.

That internal strife makes it even stranger to watch the band here, because their performance is both wonderfully loose and tight at the same time, and they move through a 20-song retrospective with an effortless zeal and excitement, as if their future was limitless and rosy, laid out before them like some kind of woulda-coulda-shoulda destiny that would never materialize; to make things even more nostalgic, original guitarist Larry Gott and trumpeter Andy Diagram are dragged back into the fold for this show, and their presence gives the whole thing the proper feel of a formal goodbye. Director Dick Carruthers keeps the numerous cameras in motion, and his direction matches the swirling flow of the music. Subsequently, there is never a static feel to the presentation, and the shots glide across the stage, through the crowd or from the back of the house.

For all of the underlying finality that bubbles under the surface, the mood here throughout is pure fun, even when some unexpected technical difficulties threaten to end the show early. Booth, who spends the first half of the performance gyrating about in a white skullcap. comes across like Bono's less-full-of-himself cousin, as he delivers the spunky new wave pop of Johnny Yen as smoothly as he manipulates and yanks the strings of the crowd during the slow opening verses during the show-closing Sit Down, before it gets transformed into a rafter-shaking farewell. He is easily the focal point of the live show, and though he's not the most commanding stage performer I've ever seen, but the guy really knows how to sell a song lyric; on my list of all-time personal favorite rock voices, in terms of style and scope, Booth's name has always been up there alongside the likes of Elvis Costello, Michael Stipe, Jon Langford, or Leonard Cohen.

There is an ironically wrong-place-wrong-time feel to the music and history of James, and as my 12-year-old daughter pointed out, "Hey, they sound a little like Coldplay", and of course, I quickly pointed out that it would, in fact, be the opposite. Her initial dismissal of the band as "some old guys from the 1980s" somehow morphed into her at one point playing this concert disc in her room, for her friends, to mass approval. Sure, I'll credit her astute musical tastes to her fine upbringing, but in defense of the band there is a timeless sort of uniquely edgy pop feel to their music that I could see piquing the interest a whole new generation of fans.

It's difficult to watch this concert, as a long-time James fan, and not to wish out that I could have been at the sweaty Manchester Arena that night. It looked like it was a helluva show.

Damn.

Set List:
Say Something
Waltzing Along
Sometimes
Laid
God Only Knows
Someone's Got It in for Me
Vervaceous
Protect Me
Out to Get You
Johnny Yen
Getting Away With It
Tomorrow
Born of Frustration
Ring the Bells
Top of the World
Sound
Space
She's a Star
Come Home
Sit Down


Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Image has issued this concert in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and like so many concert discs the stage lighting tends to bloom, especially when the lamps are red. As a result, some fine grain is evident, and some corners of the dark stage tend to look a little on the murky side. That is not to say that these imperfections are really large-scale problems that will necessarily detract from your enjoyment of the show, but they are to be found here. Still, the presentation has its share of strong moments, and anytime the cameras are locked in on Tim Booth the clarity and crispness of the image reveals sharp lines and deep color.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
PCMEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Two audio choices from Image, with the option of PCM stereo or 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. Both are solid, but it probably won't take a rocket scientist to figure out which is the preferred choice (hint: 5.1), and if your system is properly outfitted you'll be rewarded with deep sub rumble during Dave Baynton-Power's rapid-fire drum fills and the exuberant roar of the capacity crowd. High ends are a little lax during some of the busier numbers, but overall the live mix is very pleasing to the ear, with rears used primarily for minor crowd noise.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese with remote access
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Music videos
Extras Review: A nice job from Image on the extras, with the centerpiece being a wonderful and insightful 43-minute documentary, consisting of separate interview segments with the various band members. Origins of the group, battles with record labels and the finality of Tim Booth's departure are discussed, and as an added plus rock god Brian Eno chats things up briefly, as well. This is a rare bit of well-rounded James history, from the guys themselves, and it makes this concert even more bittersweet. This can be watched as one continuous documentary, or you have the option to pick and choose from 10 different chapters. There is also an optional branching option during the concert (watch for the flashing blue flower icon) that will take you to that appropriate segment that relates to a particular song or situation.

As a bonus, there are also three James music videos for three of their biggest hits: She's a Star (03m:42s), Laid (02m:44s) and Say Something (03m:13s). The disc is cut into 20 chapters (one per song), and features subtitles in (English, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese), as well as a couple of easy to find easter eggs of bonus interview footage.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Maybe you never heard of James during their prime, but this farewell concert (at least of the original lineup) is not just a great primer, but a permanent snapshot of one of the pop world's unsung finest.

Highly recommended.

 


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