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Breathtaking performance gives McMorrow the credit he deserves

IT'S a surreal night for James Vincent McMorrow.

Surreal, he says, for two reasons: he's got a studio upstairs and a house nearby. He didn't have that on tour in Australia last month. But the biggest joy must surely be that the Dublin singer songwriter, whose 2010 debut album, Early in the Morning, initially went unnoticed, has sold out three gigs at the National Concert Hall. He's also chuffed to have finally followed up said album with another, the mightily-impressive Post Tropical.

"Two records," he announces, holding up his fingers, before worrying that someone with a camera might later think that James Vincent McMorrow was flipping off an audience member. Indeed, there's a reason so many people have paid to see a bearded James (31) do his troubadour-with-a-tortured-soul shtick in his own backyard. It's because he's very good at it. And, of course, there's that voice – a startling, near-hypnotic falsetto one minute and a frightening, soulful howl the next.

James notes that he and his three-piece band (an outstanding group of musicians) are still getting used to the electronic textures, ambitious harmonies and twitchy beats of the new stuff. Looks to me like they're figuring it out just fine (the gorgeous Red Dust sounds incredible in this venue, and the epic Gold flies even higher).

OTHERWORLDLY

Visually, this one's made to look as otherworldly as the sounds young James makes with his greatest instrument. And those illuminated pyramids surrounding the band are quite cool (it's a good thing James sticks to the one spot – fall on one of those and you'd be sore for a week). Give this man an acoustic guitar and he'll come up with something as chilling as Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree. But then, we should be glad that he's since expanded on the woodland folk of his first release. It means that he can now give us a glimpse of his robot dance.

At one point, James (a humorous storyteller) throws his guitar behind his back before pausing to question whether he could pull off a full 360 spin. "I guarantee you I would knock myself unconscious." Later, he juggles keys with a floor tom – a talented bloke, for sure.

Again, it always comes back to that breath-taking vocal (We Don't Eat and the flawless This Old Dark Machine shine bright). An arresting performer, James Vincent McMorrow hardly breaks a sweat, but tonight, everything has fallen into place. Surreal? Maybe. Unforgettable, definitely. HHHHI


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