James Vincent McMorrow at Turner Hall
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Irish musician James Vincent McMorrow couldn’t get over the size of the crowd Friday night at Turner Hall. While Turner may be a relatively small venue, McMorrow repeatedly commented on how big of a space he was playing in—and on how many people he was playing for. “This is our first proper show in Milwaukee,” McMorrow told the crowd. “We mentally prepared for 30 to 40 people. This is incredible. This is ridiculous. What are you all doing here?”
It seems McMorrow may need to get used to playing for 300 or 400 people rather than 30 or 40. The crowd was attentive, excited, and not a chair in the place was left empty.
McMorrow and his five-piece band took the stage and immediately opened with “Sparrow And The Wolf” before moving effortlessly onto “This Old Dark Machine.” After song three of the set, the sound crew had to fix McMorrow’s guitar feed—something that could have been a major speed bump for other artists, but not for him. While it was being mended, he played a beautiful solo cover of ’80s hit “Higher Love” on piano.
Once his equipment was finally situated, McMorrow’s energy took off. Each song wielded more intensity than the last, whether it was “Early In The Morning” from his debut record, a cover, or something brand new. His solo performance of “Red Dust” commanded utter silence, and his songs with the full band caused just the opposite.
At the end of the set, a humble McMorrow thanked the audience and walked off stage as the drummer snapped a quick photo of the smiling crowd. McMorrow had only been backstage for about three seconds before the expected “play one more” chant drowned out all side conversations. Who would have thought this Irish lad would find so much love in Milwaukee?
Opener Marissa Nadler’s performance would have been better suited for a cozier venue like a café, but her delicate, whimsical air forced the crowd to move closer to the stage, creating her own intimate pocket within the ballroom. Nadler’s Beach House-esque melodies and intricate guitar set the perfect mood for McMorrow’s set.