Live Review: James Vincent McMorrow – Webster Hall, NYC


Ireland’s very own James Vincent McMorrow has the best voice in the business, hands down. There’s no voice I’ve heard that’s more simultaneously soothing and powerful. As a loyal fan of James since his first record Early In The Morning came out in 2010, I’ve seen him evolve over the past few years, pushing beyond his folk roots and truly reinventing his craft. While the music I fell in love with was his initial folk album, everything that’s followed has been uniquely different from his original sound, proving what an intelligent artist James is.

There is always a huge hype I build up in my head before I see one of my favorite artists for the first time, and James did not disappoint. His show at Webster Hall was perfect and more than anything, impressive. Very familiar with his three studio albums, which gradually incorporate more electronic and hip hop elements as time goes on, I was amazed to see how he and his band had an innovative arrangement for most of the songs performed. James is so much more than a man with an acoustic guitar – he often switched between electric guitars and was always on his keyboard. One of the first songs played was Red Dust from his second album, Post Tropical. The best thing about this album is the diversity of sonic textures, so I loved being able to experience this live. The sound in the venue was crystalline, so when the song ended with a magical vocal from James, it gave me goose bumps and just fed my soul. James continued with a few songs from his newest album, We Move, and now is when you really hear the hip hop and R&B influence, especially with Get Low. A highlight for me was his stripped down version of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love, which is one of the most stunning covers I’ve ever heard.

James himself breaks his concert up into two halves, and we now enter the “dancey” part of the show with a few more tunes from his latest record, one of my favorites being One Thousand Times. There are many indie artists who experiment with more relatable sounds, whether electronic, pop, or hip hop, but in my opinion James Vincent McMorrow has been one of the most successful, as he’s so genuinely passionate about other genres of music.

It’s also worth mentioning what a humble and grateful human James is. Numerous times he proclaimed how awesome it was to be playing at Webster Hall, which may have been one of the biggest shows he’s played in the States. He’s experienced huge success in Europe, so I assume it was really exciting for him to be greeted by such a loving, enthusiastic NYC crowd. It’s obvious that his priority is to make beautiful music, so to say what that will sound like in the future for James is hard to gauge, though that is what makes him so brilliant.

Julia Kwan


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