James Morrison + Vagabond + Karima Francis @ Birmingham Academy UK – 4th April 2009

James Morrison

The evenings proceedings kicked off with Karima Francis – a petite 21 year old from the North West of England with big Bob Dylan like curly hair – very distinguishable. Her sound was an acoustic rock/soul fusion. Karima won over the audience with a great cut back cover of the King of Leon classic ‘Use Somebody’. Karima is definitely one to watch

Karima Francis

Next up – Vagabond. Big hair appears to be the theme with tonight’s support acts, however the award for ‘biggest and best hair of the evening’ definitely goes to their bass player… It is one hell of an Afro.

Vagabond

The singer, who at a glance was a spitting image of Michael Hutchence of INXS fame, had a great and unique voice which really suited the bands bouncy pop style – another act to keep an eye out for one thinks.

Vagabond

On to the main event, enter James Morrison and Co. His entourage has certainly grown since his last tour (it’s been almost 2 years Morrison proclaims). This time round he is accompanied by a veritable cornucopia of musical sidekicks including a couple of impressive backing singers. Needless to say the sound was very BIG from the start.

James’ opening gambit was ‘The Only Night’ the opening track of James’ 2nd album ‘Songs for You, Truths for Me’, a lively track which announced Morrison’s intent to the greatly receptive packed house. It was going to be a lively night.

James Morrison

He then sauntered through his back catalogue of modern day classics such as ‘You Give Me Something’ and soon to be hits like ‘Nothing Ever Hurt Like You’. Halfway through the set he was joined on stage by local girl Deborah Brown for a rendition of ‘Broken Strings’, much to the delight of the Birmingham contingent. The Brummy lass did a more than adequate job of emulating Miss Furtado as the other part of the duet.

James Morrison

You can’t help but like the casual Morrison. His ‘cheeky chappie’ persona comes across which his inimitable charm and toothy grin as he jigs around the stage a’la Joe Cocker-esq style donning surfer like t-shirt over t-shirt and trinket festooned necklace – surely a throwback to his days of busking in Newquay.

My only criticism is that he’s got his style and he sticks to it. It would be nice to see a subtle change in direction with his new material. This fact aside didn’t seem to bother the audience a jot as they hollered along to Morrison’s every word. It was a complete sing-along fest.

James Morrison

His closing shot combined ‘Call the Police’ – already a stand out track in its own merits from his Undiscovered Album – and some cleverly interspersed bits of Bill Withers ‘Use Me’. From here it ambled along to Steely Dan’s ‘Do it again’ and then finished off with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Uptight’ a splendid finale. Following rapturous applause and a round of foot stomping James made his way back to the stage to treat his fans to a further 3 songs, signing off with his signature tune ‘Wonderful World’.

If you’ve not seen James Morrison and fancy a night of happy go lucky pop soul, then you really should catch him on this current tour.

James Morrison

Words by Zak Edwards
Photos by Bianca Barrett

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