Review: James Morrison, HMV Picture House


HAVING cancelled his originally scheduled performance due to ill health a few days ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking James Morrison wouldn’t be firing on all cylinders as he took to the Picture House stage last night. Indeed, things got off to a bit of a shaky start, as the Warwickshire singer’s crackly microphone lead – itself displaying poor signs of health – threatened to interfere with the opening song of a 90-minute set. The 27-year-old’s smoky voice, however, seemed unaffected; the occasional bum-note the only obvious sign that his pipes weren’t in exactly perfect nick.

“I had to cancel last time, but this is f****** amazing,” he rasped to his large, adoring flock of female admirers. Which is who most Morrison fans are: women of all ages; women who believe a man can be deep and edgy whilst still remaining sensitive to their needs.

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This was most evident on Broken Strings, the song Morrison originally recorded with Nelly Furtado in 2008. Without Furtado’s vocals present, Morrison’s female choir offered to step in and help, giving this stripped-down live version about a relationship beyond repair an intimate, in-the-moment feel.

Backed by an 8-piece group, complete with sexy backing singers, things only really kicked into gear mid-way through as Morrison showcased his penchant for white, surgically-clean soul-funk. A bit like Chris Martin and Coldplay had Martin and his band grown up listening to James Brown instead of U2.

Now everyone was truly getting up on the good foot, turning what had been a miserably cold and wet Tuesday evening into a hot and sweaty Saturday night.

Later on, The Awakening – another tear-stained, but spiritually uplifting, tune – appeared to put the 1500-strong audience under a hypnotic spell. But if that didn’t intoxicate the poorly, Morrison’s willing band of makeshift nurses, then Under The Influence surely did. You couldn’t wipe the smile of Morrison’s face with a sandblaster, and when he wrapped things up with – yes, you guessed it – Wonderful World, some girls were literally begging for more.

Indeed. Whatever you think of Morrison he sure does have the funk – as well as a way with women.