James Vincent McMorrow at Lincoln Hall (REVIEW)

At a sold out show, it was difficult not to imagine the cruel girl who broke the singer's heart and led to the beautiful songs on 'Post Tropical'

James Vincent McMorrow

James Vincent McMorrow

At a sold out show in Lincoln Hall last night, people in the crowd would begin to sing along to James Vincent McMorrow—until they realized how bad they sounded compared to Irishman’s falsetto, and would slowly fade into a whisper, not wanting to disturb the hushed ambience. The crowd was calm and respectful, only speaking to McMorrow when spoken to, leaving near silence between songs. Yet it was not until the fourth or fifth song when McMorrow acknowledged he had an audience. He bashfully thanked the audience for being there and said it was great to be in Chicago again, then went back to staring at an unknown location near his feet before digging into the next song.

Later in the evening, McMorrow warmed up and began to tell comical stories of his band’s troubles on the road, including the tour bus driver dubbed “Big Ron” who was unable to cross the border into Canada. McMorrow explained he had to become “an ice road trucker” and drive the van through the mountains at 3am.

Although the 31-year-old’s crowd connection got off to a slow start, his music filled the room and left you breathless instantly. His passion was easy to detect as he shook his fist at the crowd and the veins in his neck bulged. Throughout the set, it was difficult not to imagine the cruel girl who broke McMorrow’s heart but led to such beautiful songs.

The material came largely from the well-received Post Tropical, which was recorded on a pecan farm half a mile away from the Mexican border. It's a step forward towards the epic from his folksy first album, Early In The Morning. Opening with “The Lakes,” the music seemed to hang upon the air. The single “Cavalier” followed, along with new songs  “Red Dust,” “Post Tropical” and “Glacier.” McMorrow played old favorites “Down the Burning Ropes,” and “Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree” and closed with “If My Heart Should Somehow Stop” and “If I Had A Boat.”

Opening for McMorrow was young singer Aidan Knight, hailing from Victoria, British Columbia. “We’re from Canada. Just wanted to get that out there,” she said to kick off the set. Although the band was young, its music was surprisingly mature with lyrics describing heartbreaks and lost love in a voice nearly as pure as McMorrow’s. The lyrics were layered between a reverberating violin and trumpet with 808 drums and keyboards. It was "the spoon of sorbet at a swanky restaurant before the big meal, the artisanal nut…the pistachio," as described by Knight. She will be opening for McMorrow for the remainder of the tour.