Wednesday, June 8, 2016

James McCartney at the Bootleg in St. Louis -- concert review

I have always liked James McCartney.    From way back, when he was young and I would see photos of him with his parents, I always had a tiny crush on him.     And of all of the "Beatle sons" James' music is my favorite.  

As you may recall, I saw James in concert in 2013 and enjoyed it.  So when I heard on facebook that he was coming back to the same venue, I bought tickets the same day.   They were only $15, which is  extremely cheap for a concert if you ask me.

So I took my own advice from the last James McCartney concert I went to.   I did not bring anything with  me that was Paul McCartney or Beatles related.    I knew that James is uncomfortable in front of crowds and I didn't expect a lot of banter between songs.  

I got to the Bootleg in St. Louis (previously known as The Demo) when the door opened.    There were only about 4 people there.    As I sat and enjoyed my Diet Coke, I was shocked to see James McCartney walk through the venue.    He was alone and was carrying a guitar and had a backpack on his back.   I was sitting there star-struck and everyone else that was there wasn't paying any attention.

James got on the stage and started setting up the amps.    I then realized that unlike the previous concert, where James had roadies and a security guy, James was there totally alone.   I tried to sneak a photo of him setting up the stage, but it didn't turn out.

A guy from St. Louis, whose name I can't remember, was the opening act.  He also was just there with a guitar and played folk-country music.    By this time only 13 people were inside of the club.  After the opening act, James came out and started right in on performing.     He was dressed in all black and took his backpack off on stage.

He played the same electric guitar all night and sang every song from his new album "Blackberry Train" as well as a few from the JaMEs McCartney album.    

James' music shows his grunge roots, which I enjoy because James is just a year younger than me and so we were teenagers at the same time and both listened to grunge bands.   He is a very talented musician, although I think for this harder music a backing band would have been a better choice than doing it alone.    James' voice has a good sound to it and I especially enjoyed it on some of the slower songs like "Ring ring a roses" and "Peace and Stillness."

If anyone knows how to brighten photos like these so they aren't grainy---let me know!

James seemed much more relaxed performing than he had before.   He interacted with the audience some.  Said how it was good to be in "St. Louie, America."    He was having some issues with the amp and the guitar and must have apologized 10 times for the issues.   He joked a bit about how it was really hot.    While stage presence is still not his strong area, he has shown improvement.   Besides---do we go to a concert to hear live music or hear someone talk?

About 30 people were there for this concert, which is unfortunate because it really was a good show.  But those of us were there had a great time.  

After the concert, James came out to sell Cds and books.  I had waited until the concert to buy "Blackberry Train" and bought it directly from James and asked him to sign it.   But, just like at the last concert the CD wasn't opened and what did I do once again???  Handed it to James to open for me!

He couldn't get it opened and so I told him that I would come back for him to sign it.  Then I asked if I could get a photo with him, to which he said "of course!  Come around the table!"    I can't stress enough that James was very kind and polite and just a nice guy.    You can tell that he had good parents that raised him well (wink wink).  

So I sat down and worked on getting my CD open and went back into the short line for him to sign it.  The ladies ahead of me in line were getting photos taken with him and they asked him if he would smile for the photos.   He said "I can fake a smile if you want.  Maybe that is a bit nicer than the plain face I usually have."  

I told him that I got the CD opened and asked if he could sign it.   I told him that I look forward to hearing the CD because I enjoy his music.   He looked up at me and said, "thank you."   I know there is a big controversy right now about James writing his name as just a squiggle mark.   I wasn't sure what type of signature I would get.    I don't know why sometimes he only makes a squiggle mark.  I am sorry for those of you that bought CDs online and didn't get a full signature.   If you look at the signature I got, he made the squiggle mark and then signed his name.

When I left the club, he was still at the table.  I called out "Bye James!"  He he looked up and sort of smiled and waved goodbye to me.

I know James gets a lot of bad press from Beatle fans and that I a lot of fans don't really like him.   I still  believe that he is working through personal issues of anxiety and depression.   And as someone that has been going through a lot of those issues the past year, I have empathy for that.     James is not his Dad.    Sure he looks a LOT like him, but they aren't the same.     James will never put on a show even close to what his Dad does.  

Even if you have no desire to see James in concert (which is too bad), you really should get his new album "Blackberry Train."  Dhani Harrison plays guitar on it and it is a great album.  

*all photos (even the bad ones) were taken by Sara or Coral Schmidt. Please ask before posting any of them on your blog or page.


  1. wish him well but personally don't care for him

  2. agree that we do go to hear live music but a little personality between songs is appreciated

  3. Good scoop. I know about photos too dark to see - - but I don't know how to fix 'em. Mine were of Georgie Fame and his old 1966 Hammond Organ, circa 1999, but the photos were so dark the Hammond could've been a relic at a garage sale that hadn't paid its electric bill.

  4. Anxiety, depression. Tough adversaries, for sure, but if that's the face he wears when he takes a pic with someone who really admires him, I can't imagine what he'd look like with someone who's indifferent. Maybe James should stick to recording and leave the live shows to musicians who really enjoy relating to their fan base. Wish him well with his problems, but jeez, lighten up a little!

  5. Thanks Sara for such a lovely and warm review. If James ever tours mainland Europe and includes Holland I will definitely go and see him.

  6. Very nice and thoughtful review.

  7. I can retouch those darker photos and make them look nicer. Just send them over or contact me whenever at:

  8. Hey! He is doing his own musical career, instead of playing on his dad band, he is independient from that. I saw him in Personal Fest 2014 in Buenos Aires (Argentina, down there) and he was pretty good. Wish I could see him playing around here soon. Nice post! Cheers! Alejandra

    1. I got an email that he is playing St. Louis again in April and I have already bought tickets. I enjoy his music and it is a fun night out. I started listening to James McCartney because of his Dad and maybe I still want to see him a little bit because of that reason, but I honestly enjoy the music he plays. I also have been paying attention to photos of James from when he was a kid and I see that he rarely smiles in any of them. That is just how he is, I guess.

  9. I enjoyed reading this. I am going to see him in St. Louis this Sunday. I hope I get to meet him. He is a great musician.