Live Review: James Vincent McMorrow, Moreton

5 March 2017 | 12:53 pm | Benny Doyle

"A revelatory evening of music."

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With the city already gripped in Adele fever, it’s nice to avoid the centralised madness and escape to the Newstead industrial area for a more intimate kind of amazing.

Keeping trend with the headliner's love of Brisbane acts, Moreton have found their way onto the east coast run of dates for this tour. Frontwoman Georgia Potter’s voice is made to be accompanied by red wine and dimly lit lamps and, although their style of moody lounge music is hard to position above the sound of the crowd, they have everyone’s attention by set’s end.

A short while later, orange-and-red light blankets the room as beloved Irish son James Vincent McMorrow comes out to the strains of Roy Ayers’ Everybody Loves The Sunshine. Sporting a Panama hat and a sharp wool suit — a borderline insane outfit choice on a muggy Queensland night — he positions himself under a single spotlight and begins Red Dust before his four-piece backing band drop in behind him and flesh out the delicacies of the music.

With a voice as pure as McMorrow's, it's no surprise that the vocals surrounding him are equally on the level. All players sway and nod in unison, and they work in beautiful cohesion, though JVM is very much the star on show. He steps away from the microphone to croon during I Lie Awake Every Night, and his voice still gets picked up by every transducer in the vicinity. Additional keys paint Get Low in tropical colours, while Breaking Hearts has a dusty vibe not unlike the recent fare from City & Colour.

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As expected, the 34-year-old's take on Steve Winwood's Higher Love transfixes the crowd, though no one can resist laughing when a random ocker yells out, "Sing it, James!" McMorrow then introduces the "dance section of the set", before adding the caveat that the songs are still coming from someone who used to dance and cry in clubs by himself.

Initially, Gold is barely recognisable — given a spry calypso working over — with strange synth tones adding new layers to the uplifting experience. Soon after, Rising Water sees McMorrow go full southern preacher, as he strides around the stage, arms reaching and legs dropping, while Evil's pulsing, clap-laden breakdown wouldn't be out of place in a festival dance tent. The lights and effects, meanwhile, continue to play into the lyrics, creating a truly immersive experience.

"No way am I taking this suit jacket off — it's a fucking nightmare under there," McMorrow exclaims with a smile. We're unperturbed though — in this moment, everything is gorgeous. We Don’t Eat and Surreal tie up the main proceedings, before a demanded and deserved encore celebrates a revelatory evening of music. By now, the entire room has found its collective voice, making If I Had A Boat and Cavalier even more emotive and impactful than usual. It's a stunning end to an evening spent with one of the great voices of our generation.