Last week, I was fortunate to see James Vincent McMorrow live for the first time. For those who may not know who he is (like my brother who asked me who the hell is that when I sent him a clip from the concert haha) he is a singer, an amazing singer, from Ireland. He has been around for years, he just is not as big in the U.S. as he is in the U.K. But, he just did Outside Lands this summer, so I am sure his name is going to start getting the recognition he deserves.
I have known his name, for years. It started on Pandora years ago. It was with his song “And if my heart should somehow stop.” I have loved him ever since that song, but I had never seen him live until now because he barely started branching his tours out to the United States. When I saw him last week, it was his first show ever in Phoenix. It was a very special show. It was also special because he played his new album from front to back, then after an intermission he played some of his biggest hits. It was at the Crescent Ballroom, so it was a very intimate show. I was also front row! I made sure to get there as soon as the doors opened so I can be as close as possible, and I was. It was such a great night, and it was Monday.
A Monday. A Monday night after just getting back in town Sunday from being on a weekend trip in San Diego. But, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from going to see him. When I got to the Crescent Ballroom, I knew what to expect because I had been there a few weeks ago for one of the bar nights (it was an old school vs. new school night). So, I walked to the door. It’s like a renaissance bar, they always have multiple uses and functions. They’re a mexican restaurant, bar, and concert venue through the other doors.
I have been to shows in bars before, but the bars are closed. This bar is open so the show was 21+. So, when I got there, there was a group of teenagers standing outside trying to call their parents to get in, because they needed a chaperone. They never made it inside, which sucked. But when I got inside, I got my usual merchandise and got a spot front row.
The show was supposed to begin at 8pm, but it didn’t start until 8:30pm. When shows are about to start, I get anxious. When they are running late I get really anxious because any second the musician could run up on stage and begin and I always hope to be paying attention. They tuned all the instruments, then James and his band came out.
He played his album True Care for the first part of the show, every single song. My favorites off of the True Care album are: The National, True Care, December 2914, Change of Heart, and Bears.
I loved the stories he had for the songs. For his song Bears he told us the inspiration came from a bear they saw in a city while they were doing sound check, and how it just stared at them, when it could have mauled them. Maybe the bear like McMorrow and his band like me.
James Vincent McMorrow was entertaining throughout the whole set, which made it very personal and intimate. He talked about how it was his first time in Phoenix, and summers here are hell. He said him and his bandmates decided to go for a walk, then saw they were the only ones walking in Phoenix. It’s too hot to walk here.
I also loved the balance of his band. There were two men on the right and two women on the left. It’s something small, but it created an aesthetic. I wonder was it strategic, or a coincidence.
His dancing was also entertaining. I am not a great dancer myself, but he was pretty good. There were moments though where his body just felt the passion and music and would just start moving around on its own, and he even acknowledged the involuntary dancing too.
I just loved him. He reminds me of a geeky, cool, hipster which may be a whole new genre. But, I loved it. After performing the whole album they went backstage for a quick intermission.
After maybe eight minutes, they came back from intermission to perform the hits of McMorrow. He had even changed his shirt. He joked and said he’s a diva for changing shirts and that he changed it since he was the opening act and headliner.
The opening act was his new album not everyone may know, and the closing act was all his songs everyone fell in love with him for and listened to for years. It was the more lively set. It was the set where everyone began to let their bodies involuntarily dance, and pulled their phones out for snapchats and pictures.
My favorite songs from the second set were all of them haha. But a top five I would say is: “And if my heart should somehow stop,” “We don’t eat,” “Gold,” “Get Low,” and “Rising Water.” I had never heard of rising water until that night but it became my favorite song from the set, and I have been playing it in my head for days, because that’s when he grabbed the microphone and walked around the stage. And he walked right over to my section and was standing right over me.
He was so close I could smell him, and he smelled so good. It made my night to be front row. I didn’t want the night to end after that. After rising water, that was the end of the show. There were no encores, but he did such a long set he didn’t need one. Although, it would have been perfect to hear him sing his cover of “Wicked Game” or “Higher Love.”
But, the night was still perfect without it. As he walked off the stage, I walked out of the venue to beat the crowd. The teenagers trying to find an adult to go to the show with them to let them inside were sitting outside with a sign, waiting for James to come out to meet him. I think their bus was in the back, so they may not have, but hopefully they did! I was so close I felt like I met him. Haha.
I love James Vincent McMorrow: his Irish accent, his style, his neediness, his talent, his passion, his music, his name… All that encompasses him. This was my last concert of the summer, so I am glad I ended it with such a special one. I can finally check him off of my bucket list. Until next time, ‘Morrow.
Thanks for reading! Have you attended any concerts? If so, tell us about the first time seeing one of your favorite artists! Happy Thursday!