‘If it aint broke, don’t fix it’. The old adage justifies repeating what works and staying within a comfort zone. But, some musicians believe it is their responsibility to keep making new and interesting things. It is up to the fans to either dismiss or accept the change. Those gathered to take in James Vincent McMorrow (referred to as JVM later) folk-turned-soul experience at The Music Hall were in full numbers to embrace the Irish man’s evolved sound.
Aiden Knight’s experimental folk made some news fan for sure. The cinematic and sweeping sounds, aided by violin and keys, set the tone for the rest of the evening: singer-songwriters ain’t afraid to get loud. The short but intense set from the Victoria-based badass (he was rocking a Fucked Up band shirt!) had shredding guitars, thumping keys effects and extended vocal outros. Unfortunately, things got chatty when the songs got quiet. Aidan called out the crowd to demand full silence as he ended the set with ‘Margaret Downe’, off-the-mic acoustic gem.
Looking oh-so heavenly in the white spotlight and moon background, JVM had his band had no trouble transitioning between the electronic and folkier tendencies all evening. The newer material such as ‘Red Dust’ and ‘Look Out’ (as heard on Teen Wolf) drew louder cheers. The set also had few rock moments where McMorrow reminded you more of Glen Hansard’s harsh but melodic tones than the usual falsettos of Justin Vernon. But, the distracting battle in the crowd between the loud ones and those trying to shush them plagued the somber and delicate portions of the set. The soft-spoken Irishman was grateful nonetheless for the packed house, which, he admitted, was a lot more than those who saw him at El Mocambo few years ago. Aside from a shoutout to a newlywed at the show and tale of hilarious raccoon encounter in a Toronto alley, McMorrow’s chatter was limited and the focus was on the music. I wish the crowd did the same.