“I’ll be your opening act,” said James Vincent McMorrow by way of introduction, before playing his new, brooding, experimental album True Care from start to finish. Looking eerily like a Van Gogh self-portrait, with his ginger facial hair and broad-brimmed straw hat, the Irish singer/songwriter received a boisterous reception from the audience. “You guys will ‘woo’ at anything!” he chuckled.
The 15-track album translated surprisingly well to a live show, despite technical difficulties at the beginning. McMorrow’s reedy, soulful vocals and introspective lyrics carried well into his new, synth-lined sound, his folk-rock roots mingling with mixed beats and vocal distortions of contemporary R&B. With eyes closed and hands shaking, McMorrow gave a passionate performance; he was particularly captivating on “National,” “Constellations,” and “Change of Heart,” which each escalated, stormy and howling, into an impressive show of vocal range and strength.
After an intermission, McMorrow took his fans through favorites from his previous three albums. Integral to the two-and-a-half-hour performance was the tight vocal backup of his band’s four members, who each, like McMorrow, switched between several instruments throughout the show.
After his Saturday Lobero show, McMorrow jetted to San Francisco, where Indy staff saw him perform for a much larger, less intimate crowd at Outside Lands music festival on Sunday afternoon.