The Trinity cricket ground works nicely as a venue, both sonically and logistically, and with the weather playing its part, the trees close in as darkness falls and it’s very easy to imagine you’re in a field at a festival, rather than in the centre of the capital. “I only have an hour and a half so I don’t want to bore you with my shiteing on. When the band rejoined McMorrow on stage they were ready to flex their rock muscles, and the gathering momentum of the gig was driven forward by an astonishing hat-trick of songs – the slow build juggernaut of We Don’t Eat, the synthtacular One Thousand Times and the throbbing bass of Rising Water. It felt a little like that when James Vincent McMorrow kicked off the Trinity summer series of gigs on Friday evening. He thanked everybody for turning up, from his parents to the people drinking cans outside the fences, and then treated the crowd to some awkward moves from the Thom Yorke school of dance. If I Had a Boat provided a suitable encore, leaving both the performer and the crowd to float off into the Dublin night, elated and sated. There’s surely a perfect intersection between the point where the crowd thinks an artist is flying, and the musician is only just starting to notice that their feet have left the ground. James Vincent McMorrow Four stars Trinity College, Dublin
You can probably mathematically graph a quality gig. I’ll just play as many songs as possible.”
Even the set list betrayed some insecurities, with only one song – National – from True Care as he “didn’t want to be ridiculous” and play loads of tunes off the new album. Just as well McMorrow seemed to enjoy playing to his biggest ever Irish crowd – on the evidence of this he might have to get used to it. But the reaction to that song and its witty lyrics (“We’d spend our nights listening to The National … You said your favourite song / Was the one about death / I said every single one’s like that.”) as part of a mid-set acoustic break seemed to give him a chance to take in his surroundings and breathe. Musically there were no early signs of nerves – the R&B groove of Get Low and Nashville twang of Breaking Hearts were delivered with a pristine élan – but we were a good 40 minutes in before McMorrow spoke to the crowd. By that point McMorrow seemed to have left his guard down and his emotions out. His slow dawning realisation that all these people were here to see him, led to an excitement and giddiness that was reflected back on him from the crowd.