Although a usual staple of the summertime touring season, it’s been quite a while since the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has seen a good double-headlining bill. However, Franklin Music Hall (better known as The Electric Factory), will have quite a good one tonight, as they host post-punks The Psychedelic Furs and Madchester legends James. And while the Furs find themselves quite regularly in the 215 or its suburbs, James’ appearance is arguably a much bigger deal. The alt rock band; best known for ‘90s singles “Sound,” Laid,” and “She’s a Star;” have been back together since 2007 (after disbanding in ’01), but it’s been relatively rare that they’ve made their way through the states in that time. But they’ve actually released six full-length album since 2008 and are currently touring behind 2018’s Living in Extraordinary Times.
I recently got a chance to chat with James lead vocalist Tim Booth, who tells me that they wouldn’t have even bothered getting back together, if they weren’t prepared to regularly be putting out new music: “We won’t make new material unless it can stand up to our old material. We wouldn’t come back, if we couldn’t keep our integrity.” He also tells me that James has a surprisingly big group of people who especially want to hear their recent output: “Oh my god, there’s a new thing going on with new fans and a new audience and, because we play new songs and we play them so damn good, people want to hear the new songs. They don’t even want us to play the old songs.”
Reflecting upon the highlights of releasing of Living in Extraordinary Times, Booth tells me, “I think we were more shocked by the fact that we got the best review we’ve ever gotten for an album, which is surprising 33 years in [laughs.]” And while he cites Sufjan Stevens and Regina Spektor as artists that the band has been taking inspiration from recently, he admits that the album’s biggest influence is likely the US president… and in a good way… sort of…: “A big influence is Donald Trump. He’s outed a lot of white male toxicity and it’s waking up the power in the other side, especially in women, which I feel like is really positive.”
I ask Tim if there are any classic James songs that he still particularly enjoys playing and he tells me that “Sound,” “Ring the Bells,” and “Sometimes,” are all still quite fun to do live, but emphasizes that nothing is set in stone or sacred in a James show.
“We rest song when we play them too much and we’ll give them a break for a few years… Don’t become attached to songs you’re expecting us to play. We’re a proud band. We change the setlist every night and we improvise onstage. Expect the unexpected… But I would ask you to please listen to the new album at least once on Spotify beforehand [laughs].”