After attending James’ secret show in LA a few months ago where he promised the small crowd to return to Southern Cali for a few more shows with a full band, I couldn’t wait to see him again. His voice was naturally raw and his banter between songs was a proper mix of dorky and witty so I was hooked immediately. Thinking it was going to be a long time before he would tour again after these shows, I got tix to both his LA and San Diego shows. When I arrived at the Avalon, the venue was bursting at the seams. The band, HoneyHoney was on stage. Had never heard of them before but I thought they were an interesting choice to open. A mix of folk, rock and country, the lead singer played banjo and fiddle during a few songs and my favorites were “Don’t Know How”, “Little Toy Gun” and the Bill Withers cover they did in LA of “Grandma’s Hands”. As soon as I saw them, I thought they would be perfect to open for Sheryl Crow and lo and behold, at the San Diego show, they stated they would be back in July to open for her.
For James’ sets, the vibes between the LA and San Diego shows were very different. The Avalon had a huge, younger, hipster crowd in his face by the stage and the San Diego venue had a polite (until the very end when James asked the crowd to stand up), older “I used to rock before and I think I still got it cause I’m at this show” crowd. I do have to say though that Humphreys is a beautiful location to have shows and that was my first time there. On a sliver of an island jutting into a bay, boats can cruise in and listen to the show for free to which James teased the folks on yachts who might be out there listening to him sing. With the super moon poking out periodically between the chilly ocean fog (It was 55 and you could see the breath of James and his backup singers at times) , it still was a much nicer backdrop for James’ songs about love and loss. The sets featured mostly songs from “The Awakening” with a few songs from “Songs For You, Truths for Me” and “Undiscovered” thrown in. Fav moments were James amusingly describing how he wrote “Slave to the Music” in LA, detailing the singer/songwriter “Let’s Rock” atmosphere to a tee (P.s. I bet James could beboy dance if he really wanted to as he can shuffle his feet well), his Stevie Wonder cover of “Master Blaster (Jammin)”, “Precious Love” and “Nothin Ever Hurt Like You”. Noticeably missing was “Right By Your Side” which I saw him rip at the secret show but adding in Stevie Wonder made up for it. Am very glad to have had three chances this year to see this boy say something now.