Review - John Moreland @ Neck of the Woods (2/26/16)

Kevin Keating
John Moreland (Photo: Kevin Keating)
San Francisco's annual Noise Pop music festival wraps-up this weekend, but not before a sold out performance by singer songwriter, John Moreland, last night at the Neck of the Woods. Moreland was joined by Lilly Hiatt (who's also joining John on a national tour), and SF locals, Andrew St. James and Travis Hayes.

I've only recently come across John Moreland after seeing his breakout performance on Stephen Colbert's Late Show earlier this month -- check out "Break My Heart Sweetly" below:

What struck me while watching his Colbert performance -- and again last night at the Neck of the Woods -- is Moreland's incredibly emotive voice and subtle guitar style that absolutely enraptures the audience.

I've been to very few shows in which the audience is so quiet that you can literally hear a pin drop, but that's exactly what Moreland did to us at the Neck of the Woods last night. He had the sold out crowd utterly silent throughout his entire performance. And it was almost comical that the onstage fog machine -- which would normally go unnoticed by a typical band -- distracted John twice simply by the noise of turning on. Yes, we were that quiet. (Note to the fog machine operator: Next time, use the applause in between songs to have the fog machine turn on.)

But as I said earlier, it's John's voice that, combined with his lyrics, forces the audience to listen and feel the pain and heartache of his songs. Lyrics such as these from "Break My Heart Sweetly":
There's a scar on my soul, so let me down easy
Break my heart sweetly, like you always do
I guess I can't let go, til you wreck me completely
Break my heart sweetly, drape me in blue
Or from "You Don't Care Enough for me to Cry":
And I'm the kind of love it hurts to look at
Once I was enough to make you try
Now I'm underneath the rubble
Trying not to feel the trouble
And you don't care enough for me to cry
I'm absolutely shocked that John Moreland's not getting more attention in the media and traditional radio. Maybe 2016 will be his breakout year, and if he comes to your town, don't miss his live show. His High On Tulsa Heat (iTunes) tour dates can be found here.
Lilly Hiatt (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Lilly Hiatt, daughter of John Hiatt, was also impressive as one of the openers last night. She'll be opening for John Moreland for the next few weeks -- so don't show up late for the concert!
Andrew St. James (Photo: Kevin Keating)
One of two SF locals for the night, Andrew St. James belted out heartfelt tunes with vocals that reminded me a bit of Mr. Bob Dylan. However, in one deviation from his crooning, Andrew sang a tribute to an early boss when St. James worked in the SF City Hall... The former City School Board and State Assembly Speaker, Leland Yee. Probably not a song that will get much coverage outside of SF, but fun nonetheless.

John Moreland Setlist Noise Pop 2016 2016

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