Live Review: James, Planet

25 November 2016 | 6:44 pm | Mac McNaughton

"A masterclass in 'worth the wait' live experiences."


Things are finally going very right for Sydney quint-taggle of mates Planet, who have weathered years of various configurations and identity shifts to bring them to their current form. Scoring the commitment of the support slot for all four of James' national tour dates is a pay-off well earned.

Considering singer Matty Took's decidedly Mancunian drawl draped in Tom Peppitt's summer daydreaming guitars, Planet sound like they could easily have crawled from the Factory Records label if Tony Wilson had launched his grandest folly in Sydney 2016, not Manchester 1978. Perhaps worn by an exhausting if enviable touring schedule, Took single handedly provided all the animation whilst behind him, the other lads appeared tired but no less capable of channelling their reserves into bringing the indie-pop bluster.

As one time genre-fellows The Farm's 1991 anthem Altogether Now played out, all eight current members of James filed on stage to a deafening welcome that finally relieved 34 years of waiting. Ditching the original plan to launch with the sedately Top Of The World after allegedly hearing the massive crowd noise singing along to Stone Roses and Charlatans hits, it's the punchier Johnny Yen that launched not just the set, but also singer Tim Booth over the heads of the front row.

Thus commenced what can only be described as a masterclass in 'worth the wait' live experiences. Booth shimmied and wiggled like a beloved crusty godfather at Glasto, and held the hand of one beaming fan for the entirety of Waltzing Along so he could stand on the crowd barrier and maintain a more intimate connection.

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The Pet Shop Boys style synth-rave of Curse Curse (from 2014's La Petite Mort) may not have possessed the titanic stature of Ring The Bells or Come Home, but not one punter could take their eyes or smiles off Booth as he crowd surfed to the bar at the far back of the dance floor (security personnel alarm bells audibly rang as he tentatively stabilised himself with the venues' wall mounted camera).

The energy expelled by both band and fans could have powered Fremantle for a month, so when a welcome moment of tenderness in Dear John (from this years' Girl At The End Of The World album) was ruined by indignantly loud conversationalists, Booth was having none of it and they were rightly ordered to "Shut the fuck up". Order and jollity restored, it seemed almost defiant to those chatterboxes that he immediately went into the throng for Say Something and then gave them the choice of Just Like Fred Astaire or She's A Star (the latter won). The encore delivered even bigger whammies in Out To Get You and Sound but it's telling that they couldn't have gotten away with not playing Laid to Aussie audiences, but could without Sit Down.

Booth knew just how long many Perth punters had waited to see them live and he - as well as the entire band who dropped no imperfect notes the whole evening - repaid the debt in full.