Laura Copestake

James Vincent McMorrow @ Manchester Albert Hall

Last Tuesday I headed over to Manchester’s Albert Hall for an evening of music. I’ll admit, I’m no stranger to James Vincent McMorrow. From the acoustic folk days of his first album to the soulful sounds of ‘Post Tropical’ he has appeared on many of my playlists. But having never been to one of his gigs I was looking forward to seeing what was in store.

Settling for a seat in the middle of the room next to the sound desk, I had a perfect view as the support band Wyvern Lingo took to the stage. Having seen the band support Hozier earlier this year, I was quickly reminded of their soulful music and beautiful harmonies. Their cover of Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ was a great addition to the set and contrasted well with songs such as ‘Beast at the Door’.

After a short interlude, empty seats soon began to fill up as ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’ by Roy Ayers began to play and James Vincent McMorrow appeared. Accompanied by a four-piece backing band, McMorrow proceeded with a strong set that combined songs from all three of his albums, illuminating how talented he is as a musician and songwriter.

It’s difficult to pick a few songs to describe as highlights because each one was a highlight for different reasons. ‘Evil’ and ‘Get Low’, two of my favourite songs, showcased the strength of McMorrow’s latest album ‘We Move’ and filled the room with a powerful, vibrant sound. However, McMorrow’s small solo set in the middle definitely stood out for me. There’s no doubt that the audience were engaged throughout the whole evening but in particular this acoustic moment left everyone sitting in awe. Songs such as ‘Lost Angles’ showcased how beautiful McMorrow’s voice is, and ‘Higher Love’ and ‘Cavalier’ were clear crowd favourites, being greeted with enthusiastic cheers.

It wasn’t just the music that was impressive. The use of LED panels at the back of the stage was simplistic yet noteworthy, giving visual atmosphere as the songs built from subtle beginnings to explosive endings.

After this gig I look forward to seeing where James Vincent McMorrow’s music takes him next. If you have the opportunity to catch one of his upcoming gigs, don’t pass it on.

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