By: Elaisha Green –
Beneath a white spotlight and center stage in The Danforth Music Hall, James Vincent McMorrow thumbed the melody to “Breaking Hearts”, from his first LP, Early in the Morning from February 2012. Featuring a soft blend of banjos and a gentle snare, listeners categorized the well-received album as folk, to the chagrin of the R&B singer.
The soft-spoken Irishman opened the concert with gently fluttering mandolins and echoing background vocals on “The Lakes”. With a three-piece band he was somehow able to present a similar effigy of his second EP, Post Tropical to the crowd. When McMorrow held the unwavering final note to 808-beat powered single, “Red Dust”, the audience erupted in a cheer .
The centerpiece onstage was the moon-like backdrop that projected swirling nebulas and bursting fireworks in syncopation to McMorrow’s performance. Completing the lunar-themed collection were varied sizes of pyramids littered around the performers that glowed a motley of colours. “Someone here’s a lie…,” McMorrow started in his signature falsetto; a guitar slung around his neck while he bowed to play the opening notes of “Glacier” on the keyboard in front of him. The raging synth and crashing symbols in “Look Out”, dominated over McMorrow’s gentle vocals in the song featured on MTV TV series Teen Wolf.
McMorrow’s Dublin accent was faint as he greeted the audience and delivered a special shout-out requested by a newlywed couple. A lack of fanfare accompanied the musician, matching the sincerity with which he approaches his music. Fans watched attentively and quietly sang along with the performance, some occasionally snapped a picture, and a few heckled during shifts in the set.
The soul singer gave a slight bow and jogged off stage before returning for his encore. After recounting a story of his first encounter with a raccoon, he performed a solo acoustic song before his backing trio reemerged on stage. The show continued with “And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop”, that crescendoed into Jeff Buckley-esque runs and fans sang along to McMorrow’s desperate vocals on “If I Had a Boat” to end the performance.
Aidan Knight preceded McMorrow’s performance, as the BC-based quintent opened their 30-minute set to a sweeping hush across the music hall.. A highlight of their brief appearance was the subdued flugelhorn in “Knitting Something Nice for You”, performed by Julia Wakal. Closing the set, frontman Aidan Knight gave a solo acoustic rendition of “Margaret Down”, priming the audience for McMorrow’s show.