Part of Trinity College’s ongoing audition to be a staple of the summer gig circuit, James Vincent McMorrow rolled onto Dublin 2’s best-regarded cricket crease for a surprisingly mellow homecoming. The locally-reared singer, fresh from the surprise release of new record ‘True Care’, appeared sincerely humbled by the occasion; his biggest Irish show to date, “the biggest number of people who ever paid money specifically to come and see me”.
In keeping with this thankfulness, McMorrow gives a run-down of his best and best-known work, only playing a single tune from ‘True Care’ in the shape of National. This is in contrast to his recent gigs elsewhere, where the new material has been in heavy rotation in the first half of the shows. Here however, the experience is more of a holistic look at McMorrow’s discography, now four albums deep.
Opening with Red Dust from sophomore effort ‘Post Tropical’ makes it clear what to expect. McMorrow’s vocal strength on the final refrain could be the calling card for his entire career. Similarly Get Low from last summer’s ‘We Move’ album set the scene splendidly for what is to come.
The atmosphere of the set in its entirety is a bit odd at times. Almost definitely in the top 10 gigs of all time for the shallowness of the crowd’s interest early on, the music seems nearly a bit of an afterthought for a while to the definitively well-heeled crowd.
Carrying on through the different parts of his sound, from early indie-folk to the accomplished r’n’b practitioner of his recent work, McMorrow is largely on top of all he attempts. A mid-gig section he christens the “awkward dancing” part of the gig falls flat in places, with the band playing angular, dance-style versions of usually subdued tracks like Gold.
Some of the biggest reactions of the night – which eventually do arrive as the crowd gets going – come to McMorrow’s earliest released work, the Mumfordian We Don’t Eat or his super-popular Steve Winwood cover, Higher Love.
The tightness of JVM’s backing group and the sublime strength of his vocals propel a deeply engaging performance throughout. Trinity, meanwhile, all leafy and atmospheric in the mid-summer dusk, appears a contender for a more permanent fixture on the calendar. The gig-going experience, almost weirdly, is actually quite pleasant. Imagine.