James Morrison | Pop review

Wembley Arena, London

He joined Take That's Circus at Wembley Stadium this summer, but for James Morrison a gig next door feels like a high-wire act. "I've been shitting myself about this show for a long time," he says.

Just a few years ago, Morrison was playing pubs and fending off banal requests. "Do Fields of Gold, Do Hotel California," the 25-year-old former busker reminices. Now a deluxe version of his second album, 2008's Songs for You, Truths for Me, is making a bid for the Christmas buck.

Amid an old school, horn-stamped workout of The Only Night, Morrison appears wearing a grandad vest and a schoolboy grin. "Yes, Wem-ber-ley!' he says. Raw and soulful, his voice adds gravitas to lightweight fare such as Please Don't Stop the Rain, while he oozes sensitivity on This Boy. "I don't want to be a preacher, but I think it's good to forgive people who deserve to be forgiven," he says magnanimously, dedicating Love Is Hard to his daughter.

While Morrison is an energetic and confident performer, a special guest shows what he lacks in star power. Dressed like Morrison's two backing singers in a black sequined dress, Nelly Furtado is soon dominating the duet Broken Strings. Morrison steps back, and takes a while to recover. A promise to "kick the show up the arse" falls flat with a medley of soul standards that is too fast, but You Give Me Something re-establishes his spotlight, and a stripped-back encore of Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror is a crowd pleaser. Morrison's obvious delight during Wonderful World scuppers the mood of the song, but having realised a dream without too many wobbles, he has earned the right to enjoy it.


Betty Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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