I hadn’t heard of the band ‘City and Colour’ but I had heard of the support – the Irish singer-songwriter – James Vincent McMorrow. His voice has been likened to Bon Iver and he’s hiding a pretty piercing falsetto beneath that lumberjack-esque exterior so you can throw Jeff Buckley into the mix too.
I love him because he’s a brilliant storyteller, listening to his lyrics I often feel like I’m taking a confessional. He treads a well worn path following in the folksy footsteps of Ray Le Montage and the sublime Damian Rice. But that’s where any similarity ends (except of course in the facial furniture department) because James is more folksy-pop, his music is simplistic but by no means elementary and his lyrics are achingly beautiful. I discover tonight that his voice is pitch perfect, sounding as good live as he does on the album ‘Early In The Morning’ I then discover why. James recorded it in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with one microphone and without the help of any professional production equipment.
Of course there were fans there ‘James We Love You’ shouts one male as he takes to the stage but I hear various whispers from ‘who’s the support’ to ‘never heard of him’. A solitary figure on a well-lit stage shared only with the main act’s instruments and this bearded troubadour owned it from start to finish. He chose to open with ‘We Are Ghosts’ the lyrics tugging on the heart-strings of any hardened Emo fan.
A romp through the tracks from his album his acoustic set took advantage of the vastness of the space captivating the capacity crowd. As he began ‘If I Had a Boat’ you could hear a pin drop. As the song intensified, his voice ricocheted off the audience struck dumb by his range and passion. Its almost impossible not to be moved by the lyrics ‘If I had a boat, I would sail to you hold you in my arms, ask you to be true, once I had a dream, it died long before, now I’m pointed North, hoping for the shore’.
Whether you knew him before, you certainly do now. If you missed James he’s back in London on 31st May playing the Queen Elizabeth Hall – see you there!
ROYAL ALBERT HALL SET LIST
We Are Ghosts
Sparrow And The Wolf
Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree
We Don’t Eat
Down The Burning Rope
If I Had A Boat