After talking to James Vincent McMorrow before his gig at the Sage Gateshead on Saturday, I was fairly certain that everyone going alone was in for an auditory and visual treat. He’d told me during the interview that he takes the visuals of his shows very seriously, and the lighting turnout to be an integral part of the performance. Large LED panels were rigged up behind the band, casting blue and red shadows across the stage and perfectly complemented the ethereal quality of his music. After a chilled out intro of ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine,” the band launched into Red Dust, one of the highlights of his second album Post Tropical, all beats and choir-like.
The set list was predominantly new tracks with some old favourites from his first album ‘Early in the Morning’ (Breaking Hearts, We Don’t Eat, Down The Burning Ropes) and Post Tropical. His cover of Steve Linwood’s Higher Love was particularly stunning live, as was his latest single, Rising Water. His falsetto is so pure, and occasionally during the gig I felt transported to another planet. You could have heard a pin drop at some points – everyone was completely captivated. The atmosphere was a bit odd – the majority of people were seated and it would have been nice for people to get into it a bit more, luckily he gave everyone permission to respond to it in their own way. The set seemed to whizz by far too quickly, and thankfully the band returned to the stage for an encore which included two of his most loved tracks, If I Had A Boat and Cavalier (in my opinion one of the best tracks of the decade so far). He’s a man of few words, but who cares when you can sing like that? Mesmerising.
(This review was written for Narc magazine).