Third date into a 13-month world tour and the posh ex-Army officer arrives from the rear of the auditorium in jeans and plain grey t-shirt, passing through the crowd to the stage to begin this sold out show.
He mixes it with the audience again later but they, of course, are really here for the music.
And that, perhaps, is where James wins over many cynics; live, he is backed by a smart, tight band, while his bright-eyed charm underpins often-simplistic songs that have touched the masses.
Deal-breakers such as You’re Beautiful, the testing Goodbye My Lover and other slowies that are like Marmite to us neutrals exercise the crowd’s tonsils – as well as the feet of a few couples perhaps recalling a wedding dance.
“I may get you off your seats once in a while. Until then I’m going to play only miserable songs,” JB quips as he jogs between guitar and piano for a varied account of his three albums.
But it is the upbeat choices that really flourish in this mid-size setting, the likes of Dangerous, dealt early from new album Some Kind Of Trouble, the rocky Turn Me On, the gentle euphoria of High and show closer 1973.
Love or indifference, there’s no denying James hits the spot for many and he does it with humility and warmth.
Add in the charisma, wit and plainly good tunes of Brooklyn support act Wakey Wakey and there were plenty of happy ears here.