Summer festivals can be hit and miss affairs, particularly Across The Pond.
With the right weather and timing you can have a trancendent experience of wall-to-wall tunes and hedonism, but a combination of unwelcome showers, too much booze, useless cellphone connectivity, a wrong turn and the wrong pitch for your tent could mean you find yourself covered in mud and puke, mugged, penniless, and standing alone because you’ve lost all your mates.
Thankfully, Irish booze merchants Magners have the perfect antidote which means you get all the great music plus your own bed or a decent hotel room at the end of it.
The line-up for Magner’s new Summer Nights festival – spanning Glasgow and Edinburgh across three weeks in August – is insane covering rock, pop and folk and a mixture of old and new, featuring US imports Ben Folds and The Flaming Lips, Scottish favourites Glasvegas, King Creosote and the Waterboys, new-wave miserablists Echo And The Bunnymen and prolific folk rocker Joan Armatrading.
But it is the return of Manchester veterans James to Edinburgh that is sure to be the highlight, following a blistering return last year with their 14th album La Petite Mort.
I was gutted to have missed them on their first time out touring La Petite Mort last year, with their Glasgow Hydro gig clashing with an ill-timed pre-arranged date with the missus to see Bryan Adams (yes, Bryan, with a B) so I eagerly snapped up a brief to see their upcoming outdoor gig in Edinburgh’s plush Princes Street Gardens.
James are one of the few bands that were able to rock the soul-less out-of-town hangar that is the Edinburgh Corn Exchange a few years back and tease some true emotion from the normally staid Scottish capital crowd.
But unlike many 80s survivors like New Order or even, dare I say it, The Stone Roses, James have refused to rest on their back-catalogue and have consistently tried to remain relevant.
La Petite Mort comes in with all the bombast of a Lloyd-Webber musical with Walk Like You – dramatic piano, pounding drums, violins, trumpet, Floyd-esque guitars and Tim Booth’s impressive vocal range going from bass to falsetto without ever sounding clumsy.
Curse, Curse and Gone Baby Gone recall the indie/house cross-overs that Manchester bands like James, the Happy Mondays and the Roses pioneered in the late 1980s.
The albums single release Moving On is the most uplifting bittersweet song about death since REM’s Try Not To Breathe, made all the more poignant by a heartbreaking video created by BAFTA-winning director Ainslie Henderson.
If you don’t have a tear in your eye by the end of the video, you must be dead already.