Review – The Civil Wars w/ James Vincent McMorrow @ El Rey – Los Angeles, CA – 06/15/11
Jun 16th, 2011
Category: El Rey, James Vincent McMorrow, Los Angeles, The Civil Wars, Written Reviews
This review of The Civil Wars and James Vincent McMorrow comes from one Mr. Sean Poindexter. I’ve gone to a few Coachella’s with Sean but other then that we cant pin point what shows we have actually seen each other at. Any ways a few days back I talked with Sean about writing some reviews for YTC. Sean told me that he would love to, and had tickets to The Civil Wars at El Rey and would write a review of the show. Well Sean did a great job and we cant wait to see more of his work! So with that said,here is Sean’s review of The Civil Wars @ El Rey. -lorn
Here is some of The Civil Wars tunage to enjoy while you read Sean’s review.
The Civil Wars @ El Rey review
The El Rey is an often forgotten little venue located on Wilshire just outside the Miracle Mile. It’s a relatively small venue and the show was completely sold out so needless to say the house seemed packed but not to the point of discomfort. The crowd was very quiet and respectful of the acoustic performers which honestly surprised the hell out of me. No disrespect to the mostly Hipster crowd, but anyone who has been to a sale at urban outfitters knows that scene can toss it up with the best of em’. Honestly though, the quality of the crowd was as much a part of the greatness of the music as the music itself.
I was fortunate enough to discover the Civil Wars just before they broke out with their number one itunes sales. A friend had recommended them after I told him about my excitement to see The Swell Season at Coachella. The song writing duo of Joy Williams, a former contemporary Christian Pop artist, and John Paul White a musician out of the Mussel Shoals singer songwriter scene, came together in Nashville only a few years ago. Since then the Civil Wars have really made a name for themselves in the indie folk genre with their great stage presence and impeccable song writing. This night was a real treat for any fan of folk, pop, indie, or singer songwriters.
The show didn’t get started till 9pm and James Vincent McMorrow’s set was exactly what the crowd needed after standing in the hall for almost an hour like cattle in a chute. I had never heard his music prior to wednesday and was blown away by his subtle and sweet Irish stylings. James Vincent McMorrow’s voice was soft and delicate as is rang through the room, backed gently by very soft fingerpicking. The only issue in the sound the entire night came when the crowd convinced McMorrow to play a song unplugged. He obliged but was probably only heard by the front 50ft of people. To the haters who complained….sorry but you should have gotten there earlier.
The Civil Wars came on the stage to uproarious applause and went straight into a slightly stripped “Forget Me Not”. Joy Williams and John Paul White share a wonderful chemistry with one another. Joy, a sweet bubbly siren and John Paul, a slightly dry humored and moody alabama guitar slinger. The two playfully banter between songs, giving perspective into their relationship and where The Civil Wars music comes from. They share an obvious musical intimacy, so much so that The Civil Wars demeanor could be mistaken for sexual tension.
In addition to playing songs from The Civil Wars record Barton Hallow, the two shared very reworked renditions of “I want you back” by the Jackson 5 and “Billie Jean”. The greatest treat from The Civil Wars cover selection came in the form of Smashing Pumpkin’s “Disarm” which has been described as being a “sacred” song to the duo. I find it unusual to enjoy a band’s set when they fill it with so many covers but The Civil Wars have a whimsical ability to make everything their own.
Highlights from The Civil Wars set include: Barton Hollow, Disarm (cover), Poison and Wine, 20 years (Honestly they were all Great)
The Civil Wars @ El Rey Set List 06/15/11
(some songs may be out of order…sorry)
1.Forget Me Not
2.I’ve got this friend (only happy song)
3.Girl with the Red Balloon
5. Barton Hollow
6.C’est Le Mort
8.Birds of a Feather
9.I want you back (Jackson 5 Cover)
10.Disarm(Smashing Pumpkins Cover)
11.Poison and Wine (last song before encore)
12.Billie Jean (mj cover)
13.Dance me to the end of love (leonard Cohen cover)
Aside from the 60 year old man standing in front of me swaying generously from the booze and continually asking “dude…got any WEED?!” The Civil Wars show was a spectacular experience. The sound was great and the crowd was wonderful. The bar had Stella Artois on tap and of course the music was outstanding. If you have the chance to see The Civil Wars PLEASE DO. The tickets were not expensive and their musicianship is above par, you will not be disappointed. Till next time…Have Fun Storming the Castle and check out The Civil Wars.
-Sean Ryan Poindexter