Performing at The Corner Hotel as a part of his biggest national tour to date, in support of his re-interpreted acoustic album Blue Sky Blue: The Byron Sessions; Pete Murray would have loved to see the eagerness of fans as they jostled in line to get into the band room.
Opening for Murray was quintessential Aussie, Nathan Kaye. The blues and roots musician is a unique one-man band, performing on acoustic guitar, slide guitar, didgeridoo, and electric foot drums.
He’s quick to tell the audience that there are no special effects and no looping, just coordination and ingenuity. It’s all very impressive. “Oh yeah”, he adds, “I also sing”.
He’s a talented and likable performer, and quick to win over the crowd with his colourful banter, sense of humour, and philosophical approach to life. He’s a larrikin who loves to make people laugh, but who also tackles life’s difficult topics through song.
Early on, he introduces a song about a friend who committed suicide. “I’m not singing this song to bring the mood down,” he assures the group of plaid shirt-wearing 30-somethings, “quite the opposite;” this is his therapy.
Kaye then picks up his slide guitar, a “sexy instrument with curves in all the right places.” Inspired by the instrument’s shape, he breaks into an impromptu beatbox version of ‘Baby Got Back’.
Dressed in jeans and a wife beater, the singer ties his long, unruly hair back, steps away from his instruments and breaks into more beatboxing with “Billy Jean”, followed by ‘Push It’, complete with pelvic thrusts.
Requests from the crowd are shouted out with enthusiasm and the excitable man on stage takes note. “Hey Micky”, “It’s Tricky”, “Shaddap You Face” and “Blowing In The Wind” are mixed into a unique vocal medley, Kaye’s interpretation displaying a mix of pure talent, showmanship, improvisation and hilarity.
Amid all the jokes and banter, the bevy of instruments and the electronics, and powerful voice He was the perfect support for what was to come.
Fans didn’t have to wait long to see their adored headliner, and it was clear that the eight years in Byron Bay have served Murray well. Swaggering out in cool blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and slicked back hair, the 43-year-old oozed confidence.
Opening with “Silver Cloud”, dedicated to “all the couples out there,” followed by “Free”, Murray’s voice is husky yet melodic and the feel of his songs are reflective and personal.
The ARIA award nominated singer-songwriter explains that his next song is about a girlfriend who told him to “write happier songs”. So, he wrote “My Time”.
The song didn’t see the couple stay together, but the lyrics ensured that “at least three people who were going through a bad time are still here today.”.
The classic, from Murray’s 2003 Feeler album may have saved lives, but to him it is simply a heartfelt ballad about the day he decided to make a living out of music.
Murray acknowledges that he could probably “play songs only from Feeler and the crowd would be happy”. He’s probably right.
The show was broken into two sets – the first showcasing a more stripped back acoustic style, the second featuring his full band. This easy going, relatively late blooming musician obviously took great delight in performing, and his show was littered with philosophical statements and obvious gratitude towards those who got him to where he is today.
The title track of his latest album sees the stage awash with blue lighting, and the lighter accompaniment allows Murray’s gravelly, earnest, and melodic vocals to be truly heard.
This beachside,rocker may be perfectly at home performing to the small room, however, he showcases the talent, confidence, and professionalism of an artist who could sell out arenas.
The rowdy, somewhat drunken crowd quieted with “Let You Go”, and an attempt by Murray to “tone it down before things get out of control”. The song showcases his heartfelt vocals and lyrics, a typical ballad with great rise and fall supported by steady percussion, acoustic guitar and beautiful harmonies.
Murray echoed Kaye’s philosophical sentiments and ‘seize the day’ mentality, introducing “Opportunity” as a song he’s “really proud of”, the lyrics of which are a motto by which he tries to live his life.
The sentiments were definitely echoed in the room, with the song garnering the loudest and most enthusiastic applause of the night.
After a few classics, including “Always A Winner” and “Feeler”, Murray exits the stage to rapturous applause.
Aware of a glaring omission to his set, the excitable crowd waits around for Murray’s obligatory encore. Returning without his band but with the addition of a harmonica, Murray serenades the crowd with “So Beautiful”. The ballad was the perfect way to end the night – the crowd sufficiently wooed.