“Isn’t this nice?” singer James Morrison called out, jokingly, to the crowd at Delapre. “We’re here, in a park, at night, in Northampton and there’s nothing weird going on.”
Last night’s concert, the culmination of the three-day music festival Alive at Delapre, was a bit of a homecoming for the star. He grew up in Kingsthorpe and his performance was peppered with memories of friends he had known in the town.
“Is Jacqueline Allen here?” he ventured. “I got off with her when I was 11, she was cute.”
With so much down-to-earth humour going on, it was easy to take for granted that this former Northampton resident is now a globally successful singing sensation. But his performance, which included a huge array of his well-known hits as well as some newer material, certainly proved he has come a long way since the days when he was the ‘uncool’ kid at a Northampton school.
The venue was packed with James Morrison fans, some of whom were sporting t-shirts from his previous tours. But the evening was also a treat for followers of the relatively new talent Bo Bruce. The 28-year-old launched the show as James’s support act and received a warm reception from the crowd.
Bo shot to fame as a runner-up in last year’s BBC show The Voice, under the guidance of The Script frontman Danny O’Donoghue, and this year released the album Before I Sleep.
As an opening act, I wouldn’t say Bo’s music is ideal, being of the deep and angst-ridden - rather than high energy - variety, however it is easy to tell she is a star in the making.
No one can deny she has a great voice and her sound is familiar without being exactly the same as those which have come before. “Flashback to the ‘90s,” my husband said as she started her first song. And he was right, to an extent. Bo’s sound is reminiscent of early Coldplay and Cranberries hits, but developed and brought up to date.
Her repertoire included the songs Before I Sleep and Save Me as well as a cover of Coldplay’s Charlie Brown.
The audience seemed quiet by the time James Morrison came on stage, but suddenly the crowd came alive, whistling and cheering to greet the headlining star.
Joined by backing singers and live band, he held a charismatic presence on stage as he belted out songs such as You Give Me Something and Broken Strings. He effortlessly switched between high energy and more romantic numbers, proving his versatility.
One of my personal highlights was his performance of In My Dreams, a song James wrote after the death of his father. This is possibly the most upbeat song about death anyone will ever hear, but it was delivered with passion and meaning.
Other highlights included his performances of Nothing Ever Hurt Like You and Wonderful World.
While some stars singing live give poor versions of their recorded albums, James’ recognisably strong, grainy tones were uncompromised by the setting.
By the end of the show he had the crowd, made up of people of all ages, waving their hands in the air and loudly singing his famous lyrics.
James may have grown up in Northampton but his music is now known throughout the world and last night his home-town was witness to the reason why.
Photos by David Jackson.