Review: James Morrison souls up Araneta

By Joko Magalong

Posted at Oct 10 2012 03:35 PM | Updated as of Oct 11 2012 04:09 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- James Morrison, the British award-winning singer of hits such as “Broken Strings” and “You Give Me Something” performed with his band at the Araneta Coliseum last Tuesday night, the last stop in his “The Awakening World Tour.”

The husky voiced crooner sang 16 songs including three encores from his three studio albums such as “Beautiful Life,” “This Boy,” “Say Something,” “ Precious Love,” “Wonderful World” and “UP,” among others.

James Morrison during his Manila concert

Given that the most popular songs of Morrison are ballads, I was expecting one of those white-guy-with-a-guitar-type of performances. It was thus a surprise that the concert was very upbeat. Many times it almost felt like a gospel concert, except he was singing about love and other things, uttered the occasional cuss word and gyrated his hips like he meant it.

His funk influences shone through with his performances of songs like “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You” and “Slave to the Music”, which were bordering on James Brown-esque.

The concert was a soulful extravaganza with the singer showcasing his scratchy-voiced vocal prowess through numerous riffs and adlibs during the show. And Filipinos, being a nation very much into vocal pyrotechnics, loved it.

That said, given that Morrison’s voice is something to be enjoyed by itself with even just a guitar (or no guitar for that matter), I was frustrated that there were times that I couldn’t hear what he was singing as it was being drowned out by too much bass. That is why my favorite performance of the night would be his acoustic rendition of “Broken Strings”. But that’s okay as he says “I’m definitely coming back here!” And so I guess there’s always the next time to get it better.

Throughout the show, Morrison expressed surprise and appreciation at how many people like his music in the Philippines. Morrison managed to create a memorable night, clinching it with an epic rockstar move that ended the concert.

He wiped himself with a towel, and threw it to the crowd.

Moonstar 88 was the front act of the show. The band sang their hits such as “Panalangin,” “Migraine” and new songs from their upcoming album.