PJ Morton Appreciation Post & Bush Hall Show Review Soul Gigs Live Show Reviews. Date Posted: 23 August 2023
PJ Morton appreciation post. A month ago this artist, a pastor’s son from New Orleans brought West London Bush Hall to a standstill.
What a journey this artist has and continues to be on. Sky is the limit is truly befitting of his immense potential.
To think only 5-6 years ago I had to be convinced to take a chance. I was like many that for whatever reason had not heard his music. Pj doesn’t possess any dance floor fillers in his music catalogue and maybe that is a reason why he continues to be one of Soul music’s best kept secrets.
Well let me tell you. Over the years, the secret is slowly getting out and the murmur is turning into a full on crescendo!
When we first worked together we played a little bitty club (a fans favourite which succumbed to the pandemic called Hideaway). It was the smallest of the venues I would use, a place where amongst other things I could test out the untried. That show with a 250 capacity sold out just before the show date. But how immense was his performance. Enough for me to witness the truth. From that point on no hesitation.
I should also say that PJ insisted on using his full band despite the size venue. But this has proved to be a winning formula and great investment on his part as his musicians and backing vocalists are an integral part of his show.
The following year I booked the Jazz Cafe. Even the Booker there confessed “well done I’ve never heard of him”. Within a couple of weeks it became apparent a second show was needed and they both sold out.
Thereafter we opened up bookings in Birmimgham and Manchester and played Islington Assembly Hall London on his next return. Of course it sold out. Progress interrupted by the pandemic he returned in fall 2022 and played our largest venue to date Elecrric Brixton. That particular show, a 1500 venue remains a date in infamy for everyone that was there to behold the genius on that special night. Very much a was you there moment.
Unbeknown to many PJ still retains a role as musical director to super band Maroon 5. So pleasantly I got an email in Spring 2023 to say Pj will be touring with Maroon and would appreciate doing a little something , like a piano show whilst here on his day off. A more humble brother you could not possibly meet. Asks for little if anything and gives everything.
My doubting Thomas days fully behind me by now I say of course. My venue of choice wasn’t available so I approached a new venue in Camden. Went to visit the place and put everything in place only for them to tell me sorry new management and we can no longer give you that date. I have my theories as to why that happened but I’m no longer putting out (at least I’m trying ) to only publish positivity. Undeterred, I roll up my sleeves and assert this is London, I’m born and bred here, there are plenty of other venues that would love to host this serial Grammy award winner.
Made contact with Bush Hall who were thankfully available and with a larger capacity than the other unnamed venue in Camden (not Jazz Cafe we’re I’m thankfully always welcome and rightly so blimey I’ve put enough bums on seats there than most!). Anyway, I wasn’t sure how a piano show would go so I said we’ll make this a 220 seating capacity but I won’t mark it as seating as that would give us the option to go to 450 if tickets went crazy. Low and behold the 220 tickets sold out in 24 hours so I adjusted the capacity to 450 which worked out much better than Camden by virtue of an increased 130 capacity (God is good ).
Now it’s not really in my interests to wax lyrical about an artist publicly. Many watch and admire and covet from afar and I have to accept that. Let’s not forget after a run of 7 sold out shows with an amazing singer in 2019 within weeks she was signed to play Nina Simone at the Royal Albert Hall. She deserved it and earned it on her own merit of course. But I do take pride at placing acts in the shop window.
I digress, back to the genius of PJ. The 450 capacity venue sold out in 3 days flat . Probably one of my fasting selling shows of all time. But that’s not all. How about a waiting list for tickets of 1500 . Ironically Bush Hall was the venue PJ first played in the UK before requesting to work with a promoter. What a blessing that I got that call . It’s been a privilege to play a small role in his UK journey. The growth feels immeasurable from those early days.
Whatever happens this is a body of work I’ll be immensely proud of. They have stuck with me when they could have done what many do and jump ship.
The show at Bush Hall of course was outstanding. This artist does nothing less than breathtaking. If there was an act where I would offer a money back gauarantee to non believers this would be it. There is simply no way you can attend this artist show and not be bowled over, even without a dance floor filler. It’s so much more. Spiritual without any sermons, uplifting, therapeutic and just all round amazing. He really epitomises why I fell in love with live music in the first place.
Special mention to Lina Nikol who opened the show and gave a great account of herself.
So what more can I say, stream him, download him and above all when he performs make sure you witness what I’m talking about. #PJmorton The best live act many of you have never seen.
No more planned dates for 2023. With his grace hopefully 2024. Whether or not he is snapped up by the conglomerates, may his journey continued to be blessed
Pictures courtesy of Peggy St Clair