As both performers remarked, their previous visits to Philadelphia had been met with little but empty rooms and lackadaisical barkeeps. But to the obvious excitement of both Aidan Knight and headliner James Vincent McMorrow, Union Transfer was filled with humans in eager and rapt attention to the full and rounded waves of synth sound and bittersweet voices they offered up.
Aidan Knight and his band played through a quick set that cruised to the chamber pop vibe. Knight stepped away from the mic and toward the audience for a final plaintive solo guitar piece called “Margaret,” which proved that he could pluck heartstrings with the same delicacy as those of any guitar.
James Vincent McMorrow performed among a field of illuminated pyramids, swathed in light that alternated between warm and cool as the music from his group of skilled multi-instrumentalists did the same. They’d made it to the stage in spite of myriad difficulties (think strep throat, losing a drummer, and taking a U-Haul across the Rockies) but in their performances not a single struggle could be perceived. In melodies ridden by McMorrow’s deft falsetto and driven by a beat at once ethereal and grounded, the music of the evening reverberated among those assembled to leave us all a little fuller than we’d come.
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