Reviewed on Thursday May 29

James Vincent McMorrow’s sold-out show at the Opera House proved itself a more than worthy addition to the already impressive Vivid LIVE lineup this year. In true Vivid style, the stage was fitted with an artistic range of mood-enhancing light installations, and this along with the large dynamic and emotional range in McMorrow’s setlist really set the performance on fire.

Brisbane’s Hannah Shepherd, AKA Airling, looked ghostly as she appeared onstage with light locks lit by a warm glow. This only added to the otherworldly nature of her voice when she began to play, punctuated by gentle beats from a rhythm pad. She took great care in how the sound reached the microphone and her guitarist added peaceful notes to fill the spaces. Unfortunately, it didn’t manage to completely capture the attention of the steadily growing audience, which chattered away in anticipation of the act to come.

James Vincent McMorrow and his band made their entrance engulfed by delicate mandolin picking for the introduction to ‘The Lakes’. Usually, the first few songs of a set are a good indicator of what to expect for the rest of the show, but tonight they barely broached on what was in store, with McMorrow’s unique voice sometimes drowned by the power of the band.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been talking to you guys – it’s only because I’m really nervous,” he admitted about halfway through the show. But immediately he made himself more at home on the stage, and some truly ethereal moments began to arise. Hearts stopped during ‘Look Out’ when McMorrow’s voice danced effortlessly in falsetto then whispered sensitively, and the audience was given its first real look at the true extent of his talent. Then it melted when he stood alone under the spotlight for his popular cover of ‘Higher Love’ and a breathtaking rendition of ‘And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop’.

For a show on such a large scale, McMorrow did well to make this one personal through his humble attitude and the emotion he communicated in each song. It was special for each and every person involved, including McMorrow, who softly declared it “one of the best experiences of [his] life”.

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