James Vincent McMorrow At The National Stadium – Review & Photos
The sweet soul grooves of Roy Ayers set the tone as the band stroll onstage at the National Stadium to ’Everybody Loves the Sunshine’. Whether indicative of inspiration or aspiration for James Vincent McMorrow is uncertain, but the gathered followers enthusiastically greet his arrival, for a sold out Dublin show.
Synthetic beats underpin the opener as synths and keyboard wash together, set against strikingly strong and powerful falsetto singing, the audience roar in response to ‘Red Dust’ from 2014’s Post Tropical. Moving quickly between songs at the start, the seated are soon silent in the gap between tracks, so McMorrow turns towards ‘I Lie Awake Every Night’. With smooth soul swagger and big drums beating, ticking, the track burns steadily with an intense groove. McMorrow singing ‘That’s the way, I like it, I like it’ , chopping at the electric guitar awash in reverb screaming.
‘Breaking Hearts’ begins with sullen electric guitar but quickly beats into a full band romp with keyboards whirling and swirling, bass booming and walking, whilst ‘One Thousand Times’ ticks together slowly, with drums, vocals and keys calling and moving to a singalong chorus.
With handclaps and hard heartfelt lyrics, a highlight was certainly ‘Get Low’, from latest release We Move. With muted guitar at the start and glistening backing vocals, the breakdown presents an electric guitar tone John Frusciante would be proud of, McMorrow joking afterwards, relishing the pleasure his seventeen year old self would derive from its inclusion.
He sings some songs solo, with just keys for company, including ‘Higher Love’, much to the pleasure of the audience but the noise created by the full band is another animal. Synth and cymbal washes weave around the arena for ‘Down the Burning Ropes’ as kick drum hits a steady rhythm, soft singing gets a little louder with every word, building tension as high harmonies soar and swirl alongside increasingly frantic crashing drums. But ‘Gold’ hits harder than the rest. Vocals tear together and raise hairs, synth screams beside a drum beat born to kick new life into the world, textural electric guitar woven into the aural fabric, McMorrow howling amongst it all, ‘Out to an ocean, I was peaceful, standing, I was open’.
‘This Old Dark Machine’ moves a little differently than the album version. Tight drums tap an intro as electric sits on top, slowly setting the chords, dynamic harmonies hover before the big bass drum kicks into the chorus, presenting a haunting vocal melody.
A new departure for McMorrow, material from We Move is presented well. ‘Rising Water’ seems tightly produced and its constant rhythm and synthetic beats coupled with reserved instrumentation provide a sparse arrangement whereas ‘Last Story’ establishes a modern soul sensibility, with an RnB groove. Tight rhythm and ethereal electric guitar turn to a bittersweet chorus with gospel inspired voices sparkling solo at the finish.
After the encore comes the real end. To rapturous applause James Vincent McMorrow performs ‘If I Had a Boat’ and settles up with ‘Cavalier’. Voices and keys start, the rest drips together slowly towards a steady build. The chorus is a passionate call and synth and drums clash together for a fitting finale.
All rise to applaud as the band recede from stage.