James Morrison plus Special Guests

Friday 18th March 2016

The Roundhouse, Camden, London, United Kingdom

Well the British male pop stars with guitars to some people has probably become a pandemic with people such as James Bay with his hat and Ed Sheeran with his loop pedal dominating the charts and filling the venues. However, before these guys came on the scene it was musicians such as Newton Faulkner with his acoustic magic and singer-songwriter James Morrison who helped mould this genre for the UK.

Well this show was the official live return of Morrison in front of a sold-out London audience at the famous Roundhouse. With his fourth album ‘Higher Than Here’ being released on Island Records (having moved from Polydor) he was ready to get back out into the world of touring and am I glad he’s back.

Before he took to the stage we had a set from Eva Stone from Newcastle who has opened for James before and she was joined by songwriter and keyboardist Jordan. I felt that she started out a bit pitchy but found her feet in the verses of a song. She had a very large crowd at a very early part in the evening but it seemed like she was trying to be Kate Bush meets Birdy. Her comebacks with some of the males in the audience were witty as she told us she was ‘A pain in the a***!’ Her acapella version of ‘Wade in The Water’ just about saved the set and the crowd cheered loudly.

Everyone began clapping when James Morrison’s band walked onstage and it consisted of two backing vocalists, a bassist, a keyboardist, an organ player, electric guitarist and a drummer. James ran on as the band went into  the dreamy ‘Under The Influence’ from his debut album ‘Undiscovered’. The rich keyboards suited James’s soulful voice and everyone was dancing on the ground floor. As James smiled at the great reception you could tell that a man who has been through so much was finally enjoying himself after being away for so long (James has seen the passing of his father, brother and nephew in a quick succession).

The set list was well-thought out with a healthy mixture of songs from the new album and the classics including the funky ‘Nothing Ever Hurt Like You’ with the bass and classy organ and the huge sing-along ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ which featured stunning backing vocals as the crowds lit the room up with their phones.

James’s new material is incredibly strong with ‘Stay Like This’ which had a real groove behind it and I remembered that when I last saw him at The Hammersmith Apollo in 2012 he had an awesome horn section and I know that horns on this track would’ve worked really well.

‘I can’t believe I’m still here!’ Morrison bellowed as everyone roared with approval. ‘Something Right’ showcased his smooth vocals and was about getting his confidence back and the drums on this were very strong. The hit ‘Wonderful World’ was well-received as the stage was bathed in orange light.

‘Here’s another oldie!’ he grinned as the guitar cried out on ‘The Letter’ and he meant every single word he sang on ‘Demons’ and it was like he never went away.

The Michael Jackson inspired ‘Slave To The Music’ is and always will be a live favourite as everyone started to boogie and ‘Easy Love’ from the new album is a club hit as it has elements of dance music and is a lot like DJ Fresh and Rita Ora’s ‘Hot Right Now’. I think his work with iLL BLU on tracks such as ‘Lonely People’ has helped him refine his sound for a new audience; the youth of today.

‘You Don’t Wanna Love’ me wasn’t the strongest song in the show but it did show the light and shade of James Morrison and his material. ‘Broken Strings’ was a special gig moment as the audience knew every word and his latest single ‘I Need You Tonight’ sounded very eighties with its Nile Rodgers-esque production.

Closing the set with ‘Call The Police’, the stage was again lit up brightly but with blue police lights and it was a real spectacle. As Morrison and the band left the stage, it was clear that the crowd wanted more and that is exactly what he did with a FOUR song encore. I am not going to say what these songs were as I don’t want to ruin the element of surprise but it was very impressive.

Overall, James Morrison has been gone away for a very long time but has now returned stronger than ever and his voice has never been finer. He has changed some of his band lineup but they are extremely professional and really understand what James’s songs need. With more shows across Europe and the 2016 summer UK festival circuit looming make sure you can catch him live this year as he continues to climb ‘Higher Than Here’.

Glenn Sargeant

James’s Morrison fourth studio album ‘Higher Than Here’ is out now on Island Records. In addition, James will be performing at the following UK and Irish festivals this summer:

Sunday 10th July 2016 – Cornbury Music Festival, Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1SslWkz

Tuesday 12th July 2016 – Summer Series at Somerset House, Somerset House, London, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1Pzocza

Saturday 23rd July 2016 – Punchestown Festival, Kildare, Ireland http://bit.ly/1RIOE12

Saturday 20th August 2016 – V Festival 2016, Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1MLA2GC

Sunday 21st August 2016 – V Festival 2016, Weston Park, Staffordshire, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1MLA2GC

For more information visit James Morrison’s official website here: http://bit.ly/1Te6oAp