Video: James Vincent McMorrow performs Higher Love and If I Had a Boat (Live at the Paradiso, Amsterdam, 9 January 2012)
I have been eagerly anticipating seeing James Vincent McMorrow perform live ever since I heard his debut album Early in The Morning. I was extremely bummed out when I realised I somehow missed his first Australian tour in 2012 by a matter of months.
My expectations grew as month by month I watched live performances of James playing all over the globe via the “powers” of the internet. The guy seemed to be super-talented and able to back it up live. I threw down the gauntlet yesterday when I said to friends at dinner before the show that I expected the gig to be in the realms of seeing Jeff Buckley perform. One of them even laughed.
James graced The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Melbourne on Tuesday, 7 January 2014 with his equally impressive three band members just before 10pm opening with what I believe was All Points* from the new album.
In his charming Dubliner accent James advised that the night would contain the first real performances of the new album Post Tropical (released on 3 January in Australia), as he said that the festival shows are always a different beast so performances there don’t really count. He indicated that the band were still finding their feet with how the new songs from the album should sound in an intimate venue.
He was also impressed to see a packed crowd to support him at The Corner Hotel. The Melbourne gig had sold out so long ago I thought James could have easily added a second date if he wanted to. James posted his thoughts up on Twitter after the show:
thanks 4 heading 2 CornerHotel in Melbourne, 1st headline show behind Post Tropical. Dangerous amount of people in that room, amazing!!
— JamesVincentMcMorrow (@jamesvmcmorrow) January 7, 2014
The Post Tropical songs sounded really full live with the four-piece and the heavy bass sound of those songs rumbled the equipment on the old Corner Hotel walls. Cavalier and Red Dust sounded amazing with James’ falsetto and his vocals rising to a crescendo “Sometimes my hands they don’t feel like my own, I need someone to love I need someone to hold” and at one point I had goosebumps it was that damn enthralling. By my feeble calculations we also heard tracks The Lakes, Gold and Glacier** from Post Tropical.
If you haven’t heard Cavalier or Red Dust do the Soundcloud shuffle right now:
James was quite thankful during the show and appreciated the support of Australian radio station Triple J to get behind the soulful track Cavalier. Coincidentally on the drive home Triple J were playing another track from Post Tropical as their album of the week. Nice one!
Early in The Morning was not forgotten my friends, we heard a stunning performance of Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree early in the set. I gave out an audible sigh when I heard the vocal intro of “Golden, golden, golden river run” played off If I Had a Boat it was that magical. The crowd went insane for We Don’t Eat and it was probably the highlight of the night in terms of the crowd’s energy.
We also heard Old Dark Machine, and Down The Burning Ropes and James switched to playing bass and keyboards on a few songs which was great to watch, as did members of his band who regularly switched around their instruments as well.
At times I wasn’t sure if I was watching James Vincent McMorrow or Gollum as in-between songs he would banter with the audience and then say “Stop talking James and just play some music”. I wonder if he talks in the third person at home as well? James, change the channel this Kanye motorcycle clip is shite.
He also amused us with his tales of talking to fans behind the red curtain before the show while setting up his gear. He compared it to the tale of legendary actor Bill Murray who goes around stealing chips off people’s plates in restaurants, and telling people that others will never believe it!
James returned at the end of the set with an encore on his lonesome playing a couple of songs acoustically. He was undecided about which track he was going to finish with. He claimed he was going to play another track but changed his mind. I have been wondering ever since if we were about to hear the delicate track Ghosts!
Oh, but no, he pulled out another stunning song to close the set, you know the brilliant cover of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love. He warned us that he hadn’t played the song live in 2 years, so when he muddled up a few of the chords on the keyboard the crowd was just laughing along in great spirits. He declared on the last occasion he played Higher Love he decided put the song to bed forever from his live shows – but then he spontaneously changed his mind.
A fantastic show always goes way too quickly and leaves you begging for more. Despite the cries of the audience there sadly was no second encore. However, the show was still a brilliant way to start the summer onslaught of gigs for 2014, and I was right, James is truly one of the greats. Folks, they don’t come around all that often. Get yourself to a JVM show with no delay!
For those of you wondering, the show was as good as seeing Jeff Buckley live. The friend who laughed at my prediction had also seen Jeff live and even admitted so!
I’m off to find another gauntlet.
* and ** I would be more sure if my physical copy of the album arrived earlier. I am still without it. Hint, hint promoters! Don’t forget me.
- James Vincent McMorrow Official Website
- James Vincent McMorrow YouTube
- James Vincent McMorrow Twitter
Previously on Sampling Station: