June 8, 2008 / 3:23 AM / 10 years ago

Reunited James plays surprise L.A. show

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Reunited British rock band James, who enjoyed cult success in America during the early ‘90s, played their first U.S. concert in Los Angeles on Friday since ending a lengthy hiatus last year.

The hourlong gig at Spaceland, a 260-capacity club near Hollywood, showcased a handful of tunes from James’ new album “Hey Ma,” including the anti-war title track.

The album will be released in the United States on September 16 via Decca Records. It came out in Britain in April, the band’s first studio release since 2001’s “Pleased To Meet You.”

James fell apart after singer Tim Booth quit at the end of 2001, and pursued a solo and acting career. Now living in Los Angeles, he announced early last year that he would rejoin James, and the band subsequently toured the UK and Europe.

Five of the Manchester band’s seven members were in the United States this week, primarily to play at an iTunes event in San Francisco, and then at Los Angeles public radio station KCRW-FM.

The Spaceland show was a last-minute addition to the itinerary, but the budget-related absence of keyboardist Mark Hunter and drummer David Baynton-Power forced the band to improvise a bit during its ballad-heavy set.

“Even more than usual, we won’t know what we’re doing,” joked Booth, who now resembles R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe after ditching his curly locks for a shaved head and goatee.

Besides “Hey Ma,” which Booth said was about “the over-reaction to 9/11” by President George W. Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, other new tunes included “Waterfall,” “Oh My Heart” and “Whiteboy.”

The band dusted off several tracks from its 1993 breakthrough album “Laid,” including the hit title track; “Out To Get You,” in which Booth showcased his manic dance style; and the encore “Say Something.”

Next on the agenda is a high-profile slot at the Police-headlined Isle of Wight festival in the UK on June 15. Booth said the band would return to the United States in September-October, although no dates have been announced.

Reporting by Dean Goodman

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