British singer James Morrison is coming to SA in 2019 for shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The two-city concert tour will begin at Montecasino’s Teatro on Tuesday, 22 and Wednesday, 23 January then moving to Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Gardens for one concert only on Saturday, 26 January 2019.
Ahead of the tour James spoke to us about making new music after a long break, overcoming his stage fright fears and what he’s looking forward to when he comes to SA.
Back in 2015, James released his last full-length album, Higher Than Here and it was critically acclaimed all over the world. The artist’s three-year break has left fans wanting more and now James has a new album that he’s about to release.
About the new release, the singer and songwriter said, “It’s been a few years since I last put albums out and it feels amazing to be back with a body of work that I am proud of. I am in a better place, I’m 34 and I know who I am now. I’m not scared of being myself.”
In terms of the sound of the new, as yet untitled, album James says that even though there’s been a long break he hasn’t changed too much, but it will be an evolution. He explained, “I am the same guy I was when I was 21, I’m not a different person. So, it’s not going to a completely different thing, I suppose it’s just the way it’s dressed. It’s a little more like the first alum in the way that it is recorded live with live vocals. It’s going to be a more classic soul band sound. I’ve always tried to do stuff that has evolved with that sort of sound, but I don’t think I’ve nailed it as much as I have on this album. It just feels like a proper player’s album. For musical players who like playing music and it has good licks and it’s not as pop.“
James then detailed how things can go wrong when recording live, “If you get it wrong it can sort of sound like a bad gig. So it is a risk. If you’re going to do it, it must be tight and really good, so I got the best players I could get to help me make the album. Some songs we got it on the first take, or songs we got it on the eighth or tenth take. It’s very human thing, where you all look at each other and know if it was good or not.”
It’s been 12 years since the runaway success of You Give Me Something in 2006. Hearing the song on the radio never gets old for the 24-year-old but he does have mixed emotions about it. He mused, “It never gets old because getting on the radio was so hard. But I am in such a different place than I was when that happened. Dreams don’t come true in reality, so the songs that I’ve got on the radio are a reminder to me now of how far I’ve come. Every time I hear my older songs now, it’s really embarrassing to me, but I feel really proud at the same time. But I also just want the example of my songs to be there. So, if I get that right I’ll be less embarrassed by them being played on radio. I’m getting there. I’m prouder of who I am than I have ever been.
Looking back on his career so far the handsome Brit only wants his younger self to know one simple truth, “Just to listen to myself more and trust my instincts and not get so wrapped up in what other people think. “If you’re looking for approval all the time; you’re never going to feel like you are going to get it if you are constantly looking for it, you know? So, I would tell myself to just please myself. And other people can be displeased as long as I please myself. So yeah, that’s one thing I would say that you should please yourself. At the end of the day you’re doing it for yourself. That’s why this album and moment in time is so exciting for me, because I have never felt like this before, where I am listening to me and what I need.“
Even though the singer is in a better place, than he was when he started, he still gets stage fright, but he views it differently than he once did. He reflectively said, “I still get stage fright and I feel really uneasy, it’s like a sense of uneasiness. I feel like I have duty to be the best I can be. And to be as emotional as I can be in terms of the performance. So, I feel a lot more pressure but in a good way. I don’t feel scared of the pressure. I feel like I want to rise to it. Like before I felt really scared of it, like I couldn’t rise to it. But now I feel like I just sing, and the magic happens. I always try and concentrate and put myself in a good place first and then everything else plays after that.”
This approach changed his way of dealing with things he explained, “I feel like that’s a more solid approach to go from the inside out than to take outside stuff in. Because when you strip every away, you strip the audience away, you strip the songs away it’s just me. Saying something I care about or not, or whatever it’s about. I want whatever I’m saying to be good or worthwhile, honest.”
Adding, “If you’re intention is to be really cool and aloof and disingenuous then it comes across. For me, what I want to get across is if you come to see me sing a song, I sing it from the heart and from a good place and I put in hundred percent effort and try and enjoy myself.”
When we asked the performer what local fans can expect from his he lightheartedly said, “Well, I am always a fan pleaser, you know? I want to please the fans. I want to play what they want to hear which is probably, You Give Me Something, Broken Strings and some of the old stuff that people have loved for years. And some other ones that I think are cool and I’ll add in some new ones. It’s a soul show, really. With references to all those soul bands that I loved when I was growing up, like Stevie Wonder or Van Morrison, just classic singer/songwriters. Who sing from the heart.
Busy James only has one day off when he’s in SA, but he vows to make the most it, saying, “I have day off in between the gigs, so I’m definitely going to try and utilize the day off between the gigs that I’ve got. To see some of the landscape. I don’t really know what I’m going to do until I get there. I don’t have plans. But I am just so excited just to be there and see such a beautiful country with a vast landscape is what I’m excited about seeing. “
JAMES MORRISON SA TOUR INFO:
VENUE: Montecasino’s Teatro
DATES: Tuesday, 22 January; Wednesday, 23 January
THE SHOW STARTS AT 20:00
VENUE: Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
DATE: Saturday, 26 January 2019
THE SHOW STARTS AT 19:00
Cape Town: Bookings can be made via the Webtickets website.
Johannesburg: R450, R500, R600, R700, R850
Cape Town: R650