The modern music world is an interesting beast. With the internet and things like Spotify artists from other parts of the world don’t really have to be played on radio here or have hit records here to be known. Artists can have solid fan bases, sell concert tickets and have fans singing along to their songs without charting. Dublin-born singer-songwriter Gavin James is a perfect example of this. He has had precious little chart success on this side of the pond and yet he filled Lion D’Or and those that were there knew his songs and enthusiastically sang along.
Armed with his acoustic guitar and his smooth largely falsetto voice, Gavin James sings songs that are largely of the sad or depressing variety and yet his in between songs banter (of which there was a lot) was really funny. A true Irishman in that he had the gift of the gab. Through his talking and joking with the audience he really forges a relationship with those there seeing him perform. To further cement that early on in the show he came down from the stage and walked to the middle of the crowd to perform a cover of the Ray Charles’ song “You Don’t Know Me”. People craned their necks for a better look or moved closer to him. It was a special and at times spine tingling moment.
Interaction with the audience is certainly not something he has to work on. It was apparent they would do whatever asked of him. Whether it was to call out a request or sing along. Everyone there was willing to participate actively. Gavin James is quite likeable in his normalness and ease with humour.
Another gift he possesses is as a guitar player. Gavin James comes from a musical family and has been playing the guitar since the age of 8. Live his voice is even more impressive with a fairly good range and an ease moving from chest into his head voice. It is a voice that separates him from others within his chosen musical genre.
He definitely has a sound and his material is consistently strong throughout. The majority of his 80 minute set was made up of songs from his debut album Bitter Pill (a track that he mysteriously didn’t not perform), some new songs which he was almost apologetic about performing and cover tunes. His songs mostly cover topics like heartbreak, love and nostalgia. Universal themes that draw you in.
This was his second time in Montreal (he speaks French pretty well for an Irish person), but his first as a headliner and trust me when I say next time he comes through town it will be in a larger venue.
Ironically the opening act on this evening was someone more famous than the headliner. Chord Overstreet is better known as Sam from the hit television show Glee. We know from his time on the show that he can sing. What I learnt was that he prefers an acoustic almost country sound. His loose 30 minute set included a mash up of different Drake songs, his latest single “Hold On”, and a new song called “Smoke You Out”.
- For You
- La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf cover)
- Coming Home
- Cigarette Break
- You Don’t Know Me (Ray Charles cover)
- Heart’s on Fire
- Nervous (The Ooh Ooh Song)
- I Don’t Know Why
- What a Wonderful World (Louie Armstrong cover)
- Eye of the Tiger (Survivor cover)
- Say Hello
13. The Book of Love (Magnetic Fields cover)
14. Till the Sun Comes Up
15. Two Hearts