James McCartney – Whelans

I feel bad for James McCartney, it’s an impossible task to be recognised on your own merits when you have a father as famous as his. People are always going to make comparisons, and I can’t help feel that a large portion of the people who turned up to his gig did so in order to do just that. The crowd was a stark mix of young and old, for any other singer songwriter starting off and playing small venues this would be pretty unusual.

Support on the night was the impressive Rainy boy sleep. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the crowd in Whelan’s so quiet or still. Everyone was captivated by him and no one dared walk in front of the empty space in front of the stage while he was performing. I had never seen or heard of him before that night but went straight home to download some of his work I was that impressed by what I had seen. His only mishap was that he thanked Paul McCartney instead of James for having him there, something the audience got quite a laugh out of but he didn’t seem to notice as he just carried on with his set and exited hastily when it was over. James arrived on stage quietly and he appeared to be quite nervous, it didn’t affect the quality of his performance, but he never seemed to relax until the very last song.

He didn’t interact with the crowd much but when he did he was softly spoken and quiet, he’s known for being shy and it was clearly evident the minute he stepped on stage. James’ inherited vocal genes were obvious. He has a strong singing voice with a high pitch and he didn’t hold back. He switched from guitar to keyboard with ease but he looked more comfortable playing in his own world than when he was focusing on the audience. He worked his way through most of his modest back catalogue. My friend, Fallen angel and Glisten were particularly powerful. But the biggest reaction of the night was reserved for his moving rendition of Neil young’s classic song Old man which he dedicated to his father.

He closed the set with Angel and despite calls from the audience for more there was no encore. It was an enjoyable gig but it will be interesting to see how he performs in a few months or years time when he has developed a bit more confidence and has more of a stage presence. I’m sure once the initial buzz over the fact that Pauls only son has finally pursued a career in music has died down he will be left with a genuine fan base, and he can progress steadily without the intense focus that he has on him right now.


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