Serendipity and Soul: James Vincent McMorrow

By: Katie Rice

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On Monday night Irish singer James Vincent McMorrow performed a sold-out show at the Roundhouse. His newest album, We Move, was released just over a month ago. The album can only be described as groovy with a good amount of soul. It is deeply-personal, celebrating mental fragility, while making the listener want to, well, move. If you haven’t heard of his solo work, you may know his cover of Chris Isaac’s ‘Wicked Game’ that’s on the season six trailer for Game of Thrones or his collaboration with Kygo, ‘I’m in Love.’

The opener, Kevin Garret, was the perfect mix of awkward and funny, making everyone in the audience laugh in between his spine-tingling set. His vocals were so clean that it only made sense that he would be alone on the stage, with nothing but a piano and an acoustic guitar. I found his performance to be the perfect instance of serendipity – his name wasn’t even on the line-up, yet I found myself completely in awe. If Sam Smith and Matt Corby were somehow morphed into one person, his name would be Kevin Garret. In other words, the crowd loved him and his soulful sound. The American musician continued to win the crowd over when he asked politely if he could take a picture of us before he left the stage. Keep your eyes open for this rising star – he co-wrote and produced ‘Pray You Catch Me’ from Beyoncé’s newest album, Lemonade.

James Vincent McMorrow shyly took the stage, obviously more interested in the music than the lights and the fame. However, the magic was evident as soon as the singer took the mic and opened with ‘Get Low’. He immediately lost himself completely in the music, oftentimes keeping his eyes shut for entire songs. For one moment in particular, I found the cliché saying ‘The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart’ to be completely true. It was blatantly obvious that he was more comfortable speaking through the music than merely with words. His vocals and moving lyrics put the crowd in a trance, with hardly a whisper in the packed venue. If his hypnotizing performance wasn’t enough to make every person fall in love, his sense of humor and shy personality definitely was.

Following his opening song, he stated ‘I’m going to be a dork all night. Normally I’m super fucking cool.’ Although it was such a big gig, I have never experienced a more intimate show. At most concerts there’s a barrier (more than just physical) between the artist and the crowd, yet this felt less like a big sold out show and more like an intimate local performance. At one point his band left him on stage and he continued to perform a glorious solo set, consisting mainly of his older songs. However, his newer songs were performed with extremely energetic lighting effects and electric guitars.

Rarely do you attend a show and are completely at a loss to classify the genre. Is it folk? Is it indie rock? Is it alternative? The answer? Sometimes it’s okay to completely forget about labels and just enjoy the ride.