Sunday 23rd February 2014
Red ambient light filled the pulpit, as the crowd spilled in from the wet and blustery Irish night, filling up the pews. Excitement ricocheting off the walls of The Pepper Canister Church because Americana blues singer John Murry was here to show us who he was.
Murry, grandson of William Faulkner, is described as ‘an addict who lost his wife and child and home, and almost his life’ cleaned up his act. ’The Graceless Age’, was released last year capturing his sound and lyrics to critical acclaim which drew many others and I to this sold out event. Support came from Gavin Glass and unfortunately nothing went right for him on the night, which left us concerned as to whether John Murry would live up to the expectation.
Murry walked up to the stage looking disheveled, and scrappy hopes had dipped after the support act. However he and his band completely blew us away, in between hilarious and sometimes incoherent ramblings by Murry himself. Hair tousled, he stood there staring at us for a moment, looking like he might pull out a shotgun and tell us to get off his land.
Commencing his set with ‘Ballad of a Pyjama Kid’, it was so pleasantly surprising, such a wild and gripping sound that comes from his mouth. Murry wasn’t just unreal, he was ethereal, a master and so were his support musicians. His vocal is a perfect mesh of Tom Waits and Nick Cave. His intelligent and witty lyrics had us cracking up with laughter with his band in perfect accompaniment, similar to the Bad Seeds – this is what we had hoped for.
‘Photograph’ is a song about a photo he found of his wife and her ex, he said “she must be so disappointed to be with him (Murry)”. Murry went on to tell us that he was meant to record with Tom Waits and another big name, when he got a call to say his house burned down resulting in a song. We were at the edge of our seats the entire time, while Murry told us story after story, through song. He blew our minds away with those gritty, heart wrenching and epic songs – with his vocal so rough and edgy.
An album which permeates his past experiences with love, drugs, pain, life, before cleaning up embedded in his home land, songs which have been described as ‘translucent vessels of beauty and light’ with remarkable lyrics embedded in literature. Murry delivered every last one of his songs, like old classics and ended the night in darkness with ‘Most of the Time’. Each song never failed him; he never wallowed once in the pains he endured – a memorable and momentous night. Murry is on the same level of Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty and Tom Waits.
A new interesting voice and a most memorable night.
Review by Aine Byrne
Ballad of Pyjama Kid
Cities of the Plain
Things We Lost In The Fire
Maria’s Little Elbows
Little Coloured Balloons
Most of the Time
Photo by Carl Foran
In association with Dublinconcerts