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Tindersticks - Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London, 9/3/2010

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 27 / 3 / 2010

Tindersticks - Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London, 9/3/2010


The son of Paul McCartney, James McCartney recently played two nights at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen in London, Anthony Strutt watches him play a solid set of largely alternative rock and finds him to be a solid performer who deserves his own audience

James McCartney is the son of Paul McCartney, the bass player, guitarist and drummer with the Beatles and Wings. His mother was Linda McCartney, Of all McCartney's children, apart From Mary, who is now a full time mum, James has had the quietest profile. He has a Facebook page, a MySpace page and a website, but all say pretty much the same. There are no pictures of him except for a blurred one on any of those and his public profile appears to be shrouded. The only way to get to know more about him is to go and see him live. He played late last year under the band name of Light. Tonight is the first of two London dates under his own name. The venue is in the back of a trendy Hoxton bar and holds just two hundred people. It starts off being fairly full, but by the time of James' arrival on stage just after 10 p.m. there are just 100 people or so there. Paul makes no appearance and there are no name musicians in his band. James is in his early 30's. If you look closely at his face, you can see something of Paul in there, but James has a short cropped haircut, is somewhat overweight and has a bit of a beer belly. Tonight's crowd, as expected, consists of McCartney fans of all generations, expecting him to be a younger version of his dad. He ain't. The set lasts just 53 minutes. I like though what he does on stage. He doesn't have his dad's super confidence and seems to be uncomfortable on stage. He is not though as a musician and is a decent guitarist, mandolin player and piano player and knows how to write a decent tune, To quote Paul from his Wings days, "Some people have had enough of silly love songs." Well, not one of James are like that. He jumps up on stage, and says, "Hello, I live in London and this song is called 'New York Times'". It sounds like a mixture of both McCartney and Lennon vocally, while musically it has a punky mid 70's rock sound and is a lot like something which John Lennon might have written for his 'Sometime in New York City' album. 'Moonstar', which James also introduces, is a 50's-flavoured rocker and is well structured with a decent rhythm and flow as is the whole set. Before 'Ball' he tells us that he doesn't know what to say anymore. 'Ball' is quite jangly and has an oddball early R.E.M. sound. 'Glisten' is played on a guitar, which he says was given to him by his dad before he introduces the band. 'Glisten' features a cello and he tells us is influenced by both the Cure and Neil Young. I can hear the Neil Young influence on it but not the Cure. It has an element of Crazy Horse and shows that he can hit the high notes. 'My Friend' is about true love and was written for his dad. James plays piano on this and it has a mid 70's Wings/Elton John sound. 'Spirit Guides' is another 70s style rocker which again has James on piano. 'Mix' is introduced as a song that he wrote when he was 16 travelling down from Scotland and is played on a guitar that Carl Perkins gave him. Unlike the rest of the set, it has an American Grunge sound and is reminiscent of Nirvana. 'Erratic Pulses', which was written after his mum died, again is Cobain flavoured. 'Denial' was, however, in contrast undoubtedly influenced by the Cure's 'A Forest'. 'Wings of a Lightest Weight' is very soft with a lovely charm to it and reminiscent of something that his dad might have written. 'Old Man' is his only cover and was written by Neil Young, appearing on his 'Harvest' album. James does more than justice to it and rocks up a bit too. 'I Love You, Dad' is a love song for dad, played on mandolin and very skilfully too. The whole set was written over a 10 year period. It is all solid material of the alternative variety. Once he shakes off his dad's fans and plays to XFM fans then he might get a proper audience behind him. A two song encore follows. He returns on 'Fallen Angel' on piano which is very cleverly crafted. The fabulous song, 'Angel', which appears on all of his webpages and is a potential choice for a single, closes the gig. It has a R.E.M. heavenly jangle. This was a decent set from McCartney Jr.

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