What’s Left: 87 Days. 41 Bands.
Band #59: James Vincent McMorrow
When/Where: June 8, 2011, The Paradise, Allston, MA
Expectations: Very excited to see the much-adored Irish folk singer, especially since he’s a Sunset in the Rearview favorite. Read Lydia’s interview with him here.
Concert: There is something unbelievably lonely about a man and his acoustic guitar standing by himself on a large stage in front of 100 or more people. James Vincent McMorrow played his entire set solo and looked even lonelier up there when the crowd persisted in a dull roar of conversation, even in the front rows, making it impossible to block out the chatter. All of the wonderful subtleties that come through on James Vincent McMorrow’s album were lost to the chatter. Songs like “If My Heart Should Somehow Stop” and “Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree” felt more desperate and meloncholic sung through the talk.
However, the parts I love most about McMorrow’s music still shone through, which is a testament to his talent. His songs are full of “ohh ohhhs” and there is as much beauty and emotion conveyed in those as his well written lyrics. Live, his voice is just as amazing and ravishing as it is on the record. His emotive falsetto can absolutely soar. Despite the talk, he was even able to provide some pleasant banter that reminded me of the great personality he has in his interviews. He really let loose and sang louder for the last two songs of his set. Hearing “Sparrow and the Wolf” stripped down to only the acoustic guitar made it a different song (I’d tell you more about it if I could’ve heard it). His last song, “If I Had a Boat” was sung with all his might and got more of the crowd’s attention and was the highlight of the show for me. It’s unfortunate that the crowd made any James Vincent McMorrow fan want to get in a boat and sail away.
Concert Afterglow: I wish he had stuck around after so that the folks who listened and bought his album could have told him that he was appreciated and wonderful. I passive aggressively crushed a beer can in my hand instead. Still, he’s a fantastic musician and the next time I get a chance to see him, I will.
Recommendation: Putting James Vincent McMorrow on the Bell X1 tour might not have been the best match up. I am sure he shines in an intimate setting and if you get a chance to see him in such a setting, jump on it. It’d also be nice to see him with a full band. Just be wary of this particular tour, and if you do go, I hope your city has a more respectful crowd than mine.
Below is a live recording of “If My Heart Should Somehow Stop” from the concert. You can clearly hear McMorrow’s voice but you hear a lot of talk as well. I know Sunset readers respect music so please take this as a friendly PSA to not talk like this at a concert. This isn’t just the one guy or because it’s an iPhone recording, it really was this loud and chatty throughout the venue. I am in no way associated with the person who recorded and posted the song. It’s a shame a review of a talented musician had to get bogged down with concert manner issues. Sorry for that.