James Vincent McMorrow @ Anson Rooms 11/02/12 Live Review

Originally planned for The Fleece, this gig was moved to the significantly larger capacity venue of the Anson Rooms due to high demand but was still sold out weeks beforehand. A phenomenon that has been repeated across the country for this tour as James Vincent McMorrow has found a sudden surge in popularity, perhaps due to his cover of Higher Love being featured on an advert for LoveFilm last year.

An alternative explanation may be that JVM’s vocals bear a certain similarity to those of Bon Iver who have recently transitioned to mainstream awareness (receiving the Grammy for Best New Artist this weekend despite their first album being released in 2007 and to the consternation of a number of Twitterers who cried in unison, “who the hell is Bonny Bear?“).

Either way, JVM’s appeal appears to cross a wide range of demographics judging from the range of different ages and fashion-senses packed into the school-hall-esque Anson Rooms on Saturday night. Support was provided by London-based Rob Bravery (SoundCloud here) whose melodic piano led pop is along the lines of artists such as Rufus Wainwright but perhaps with a bit of the edge of Elliot Smith mixed in.

JVM and his pretty extensive band took to the stage to plenty of cheers and dove straight in almost before the lighting guy had noticed quieting the crowd with a couple of album tracks. Being at the Anson Rooms, there was a certain element in the audience that were there for the social aspect rather than the music resulting in the usual burbling during the quieter songs. There was also one member of the crowd who after each of the first 5 songs persistently shouted “Roscoe”. After attempting to silence him with some gentle mocking, JVM eventually insisted on knowing what he was shouting and worked out he was referring to the Midlake song by that name and rather impressively decided instead to give us an impromptu cover.

JVM’s music doesn’t quite have the range of Bon Iver and there is a risk of songs blurring into each other but musical highlights were We Don’t Eat and, surprisingly, From The Woods! which works better live than on the album. Slightly unfortunately though, for me it was the covers of Higher Love and Chris Isaak’s haunting Wicked Game that really stood out. Indeed, I don’t want to over-sell it, but JVM’s version of Wicked Game may actually be more beautiful than the original.

A special edition of Early In The Morning with additional tracks including the cover of Wicked Game is available from Amazon.