James Vincent Mcmorrow first graced the pages of this blog in November 2010. I remember it because I opened up an e-mail with his press release at 3am, a bit drunk and completely frazzled from a week of trying to write some awful essay. Inside the e-mail, sent by the fantastic Lou who runs his PR at Partisan, was a stream of the track If I Had A Boat, amongst others. In my slightly delirious state I stuck it on repeat and opened up the blog to write something about it. It’s not often that I blog something as soon as I hear it, there is a constant list of tracks that have been waiting patiently for their turn on the site, but it was the least I could do to let James queue jump. Needless to say the post was suitably scrappy and was only saved by the fact that the music was just so good.
Last week, I got the chance to go see the man play live in Bristol, just up the road. Queue a team roadtrip, some last minute calls to old west country friends and the buzz of pushing through crowds with a plastic cup of lager clutched in hand.
As Mr. Mcmorrow graced the stage the crowd (which ranged from knitted jumper clad students to beaming, nuclear families) swelled into an uproar of woops, cheers, yells, affectionate heckles and camera flashes. I cant remember the last time I was part of a crowd so keen to actually have a conversation with someone on stage. One guy did manage to get James’ attention and even persuaded him to play a song which was either called Moscow, Bosco or Roscoe. Throughout the set the mixture of collective captivation and euphoria became pretty bizarre, no one dared speak during the music and anyone who did was roundly hushed. But between songs no one could contain themselves, if a song happened to step up a notch or the drum pattern changed all hell broke loose.
It really is testament to the song writing and charisma of JVM that he can charm thousands of people into such a state of nonsensical joy. Songs such as We Don’t eat, Higher Love and, the personal favourite, If I Had A Boat were really special and probably had the most profound effect on the audience. The entire set was over far too quickly, I didn’t check my watch once throughout the whole thing which is a rarity. I was no doubt just as driven to distraction as the other thousand people, each of us in our own world. A phenomenal rendition of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game was the real game changer which played over again in my head long after we stumbled out into to Bristol night.
We were expecting great things and they came by the bucket load.