With more than 25 million albums sold over their 42-year career, Manchester legends James are amongst the most commercially and artistically successful – and most loved - alternative rock bands of their era. Having gathered a cult following around compulsive art rock gallops like ‘Johnny Yen’ during the 1980s, they broke through to mainstream chart success with their 1990 major label debut Gold Mother and went on to unite the early Nineties with euphoric anthems of solace, love, sex, loss and frustration at the ills of the world: ‘Come Home’, ‘Sit Down’, ‘Sound’, ‘Sometimes (Lester Piggott)’ and ‘Laid’. Their fifth album Laid – the first of a string of James albums produced by Brian Eno - saw them break the US charts, while subsequent hit albums including Whiplash (1997), Millionaires (1999) and Pleased to Meet You (2001) cemented their standing as a classic 1990s singles act, adding ‘Tomorrow’, ‘She’s a Star’, ‘Just Like Fred Astaire’ and ‘Getting Away with It (All Messed Up)’ to their formidable canon.

The band entered a six-year hiatus in December 2001, but such was the connection and fervency of their fanbase that their 2007 reunion was met with such renewed success that it was as though they’d never been away. James’s celebrated second era, launched with 2008’s Hey Ma, would earn them more Top 20 album placings and faster ticket sales than their whirlwind initial run, completing an unbroken run of 15 Top Twenty albums since 1990. 2014’s La Petite Mort – inspired by the deaths of singer Tim Booth’s mother and his close friend Gabrielle Roth – was critically acclaimed, while 2016’s Girl at the End of the World returned them to the upper echelons of the album chart, where they’ve remained ever since. Living in Extraordinary Times (2018), All the Colours of You (2021) and the new, 18th studio album Yummy are amongst their finest and most prescient releases, dealing with US politics, AI technology and conspiracy theories, all the while facing down mortality with an unbeaten smile and striving for love in a world spinning catastrophically out of control. Their fortieth anniversary in 2023 was celebrated with a tour of inspired orchestral reworkings of hits, b-asides and obscure favourites – and a studio recording Be Opened by the Wonderful – but this was far from a full stop. As Booth sings on the anti-ageism anthem ‘Rogue’ on Yummy: “some of us still have work to do”.


Posted in Arena, Artist 2024, Friday, Mainstage on Feb 22, 2024