Although a later generation of guitar-playing singer-songwriters, notably Ed Sheeran and George Ezra, are now taking much of the limelight, James Morrison showed with the opening show of his 2019 tour that he still has much to offer.
Bounding on stage at the UEA Nick Rayns LCR, the 34-year-old was all fist-pumping confidence as he launched into an upbeat rendition ofUnder the Influence, the first track from his 2006 debut album, Undiscovered. The marvellous title track from that record was another early song on the set list, and was, like others, mixed in with plenty of light-hearted chat from the amiable Morrison.
I Won’t Let You Go, the standout single from his third album, The Awakening, was another highlight, showing off Morrison’s soulful voice – he is often compared to Stevie Wonder – to particularly good effect.
During another of his hits, Broken Strings, a duet from his second record, Songs for You, Truths for Me, Morrison and the backing singer who he was duetting with were happy to step back and let the crowd take care of the vocals. And the audience – who were pleasantly mixed in age – knew every word, and they provided vocal accompaniment on several other tracks too.
Morrison has just released his fifth album, You’re Stronger Than You Know, from which he drew the excellent My Love Goes On, tightly played by his four-strong band.
Another of the new album’s cuts, Feels Like the First Time, was further evidence that Morrison’s songwriting abilities are as impressive as ever.
Perhaps the only track that disappointed was the final one of the near sell-out show, Wonderful World, a top-10 smash from Undiscovered. So melodic and full of energy on record, the live version was strangely unmusical, being all beat and little tune.
But overall this was a masterful performance from one of Britain’s most talented singer-songwriters.
Morrison was supported by Etham, another guitar-playing singer-songwriter, who earned a warm reception from the crowd with his strong voice and heartfelt songs. His name – note the unusual spelling – might well become more familiar with time.
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