Tim Booth

Whiplash with a Smile

with Third Eye Blind
The Rage
Vancouver, B.C.
Thursday, May 1, 1997

Review by Daniel Ewacha
Photography by Rodney Gitzel

Tim Booth Transparent marketing ploy or legitimate injury? That was indeed the question on everyone's minds as lead singer Tim Booth appeared in a neck brace as he and the rest of the James gang took to the stage, ironically enough in support of their new album entitled Whiplash. "I have whiplash," Booth stated, answering our silent inquiry, then added laughingly, "It's not some cheap marketing tool." Thankfully, rather than canceling this, their long-awaited return to Vancouver, James decided to go ahead, and performed about 90 minutes of material from their first to their most recent albums.

As they opened the show with "Out to Get You" off of their Laid album, a tranquil, yet hauntingly exciting choice, I knew the show was going to be a classic. The audience, myself included, proceeded to sing along with Booth every word of practically every song performed, much to the delight of the band (who helped by concentrating on the Laid and Whiplash CDs, the band's more commercially successful products).

James guitarist James do not simply put on a show -- they put on an event, and the Rage was the place to be this Thursday. A James show is entertaining to the point of leaving the audience and the band on the same level (despite, this time, Booth having to sit down periodically, leaving the audience yearning for his trademark spastic dances). The band looked like they were having fun, as did the audience.

Their light show was nothing short of excellent and well worth noting, whether it was the beat-triggered strobe lights during "Sound" or the multi-coloured bombardment during "Sit Down," (which was disappointingly lacking in pogoing by the audience). Considering the fact that this was the Rage, envisioning the stage performance James would put on in an arena or stadium gives me goose bumps. But for now, we'll just have to settle for clubs. Either way, they're entertaining to the extreme.

Third Eye Blind vocalist It was hard to figure out the opening act, Third Eye Blind. Musically, the band was fine and they have a lot going for them, but I couldn't tell whether the vocalist was pretending and acting like a wanker, à la Michael Stipe, or if he truly is one all on his own. The only members of the band who looked genuine were the bass player and the drummer (isn't that the way it always is?), while the vocalist and the guitarist (with his cool shades) definitely had the "Hey, let's share a joke amongst ourselves and have a good laugh while the crowd below sits and wonders what Third Eye Blind guitarist we're laughing about" routine down pat. Well, congratulations. The vocalist also knew how to forcefully grab the mic stand and walk calmly around the stage with his back to us quite well, while the guitarist was practiced at stomping on his pedals and posing.

Maybe they were just trying to make a good impression, as they said this was their first show outside of their home town of San Francisco. What it came down to the music, a mix of David Bowie, Soundgarden, REM, Joy Division and NIN sans industrial maneuvers, they did make an impression. But, although I might pick up their CD, I doubt I will go to see Third Eye Blind play live again for quite a while.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on May 30, 1997

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