James Vincent McMorrow returns to a loving city, Turner Hall

There are a few things that Milwaukee really loves, and music is one of them. Home to one of the largest music festivals in the world, this city has seen more than its fair share of artists, good and bad, and knows how to show a deserving warm welcome.

Returning to Turner Hall Ballroom for a third time, James Vincent McMorrow has been met with a larger and more vocal crowd with each visit. His recent studio release Post Tropical has brought him great success with mostly positive reviews. A slightly different McMorrow is experienced in his recent work. 2010’s Early in the Morning was slightly more reserved and organic than Post Tropical turned out to be – featuring a touch of electronics through keys and percussion.

While McMorrow’s vocals were superb, almost awe inspiring, the new touch of Post Tropical could be heard creeping its way into his older works, sort of blending his styles that were best left separate. And while it proves very difficult to lug a real flat back piano around, it would’ve added some real value if McMorrow had been keying away on one.

Most of the show kept close to Post Tropical and Early in the Morning, but after the full band disappeared backstage, James emerged for a charming cover of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love”. He made clear how grateful he was to the Milwaukee fans, “you guys always treat me so well”, after many of his hit songs. A sharp change from his last visit – mostly sit down with tables – the ballroom was filled shoulder to shoulder with fans even peeking down from the upper level – a rarity for this venue.

His music has become quite the sensation within the demographic he appeals to. Songs like “If I Had A Boat”  and “Cavalier” evoked a collectiveness from listeners that many artists struggle to grab in their live shows. Vocals that reach a pitch even female vocalists struggle to reach are McMorrow’s wild card. His range would make anyone stop and stare.

Closing the show fans could be heard yelling “come back soon”, and “we love you”, returned by McMorrow with a smile and a wave.

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