WHO'S this hip-shaking singer who's strutted onstage, and what's happened to the sensitive soul usually hidden behind an acoustic guitar?
James Morrison opened with a surprising bang, cavorting around the stage to the slick R 'n' B sound of Beautiful Life in a manner a world away from his usual stage presence.
There were, then, two quite different sides to his set. The majority followed a more predictable path, offering up material that aimed to be swoonsome and smooth; but then there were the moments, all lifted from his newest record The Awakening, where he seemed to get fired up by the greats of soul music and infused some much needed urgency into matters.
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Those tracks took some time to arrive after the initial burst, however. Morrison is accomplished at penning sensitive pop with soaring choruses that display a strong voice, and there was plenty of that to sit through. He has, at times, a delicate touch, as on In My Dreams's neat arrangement, while I Won't Let You Go delivered a rousing finale. Too much of it, however, appeared expressly designed to soundtrack those uplifting montages that accompany sporting failure on the BBC. Up, with a backing singer replacing Jessie J, lacked any pep; his older hits drifted along pleasantly and were played well by his band, although without being properly engaging or, indeed, particularly memorable.
Yet the otherwise restrained Morrison showed real bite when the driving Slave To The Music bounced in on a terrific riff pinched from Destiny Child's Bootylicious, before tearing into a storming cover of the Spencer Davies Group's I'm A Man that displayed the power in his vocal. More of that in the future, please.