Pete Murray's live performance circa 2017 is certainly different to Pete Murray circa 2013.
With expectations grounded by my experience as an audience member in Townsville five years ago, my perspective of the musician was swiftly uprooted as I stood among the crowd at The Tivoli Theatre (15 July) in Brisbane.
I arrived as the first track erupted and was immediately taken aback by the sheer size of the accompanying band and by the noise; shuffling through the sell-out crowd proved difficult being surrounded people in their 30s and 40s, a 22-year old has no place shoving her elders out of the way.
‘Sugar’ started as I nestled into place, a sweet-as-cinnamon taste of Pete’s lesser known record ‘Summer At Eureka’, laced with surprisingly similar sentiments to his 2017 releases.
The recognisable riff of ‘Bail Me Out’ came next; stage black, audience brought to life by nostalgia; the band went silent, Pete teased: “It’s too early for that one, right?” before he began to play. Almost mind-boggling to think the composition dates back 15 years; even more so to consider the lyrics are still safely tucked away in the mind of fans.
A clever contrast, ‘Bail Me Out’ was then juxtaposed against ‘Home’ a tender track from his most recent album ‘Camacho’. The 2017 record’s title tune next made an appearance, highlighted by an outstanding keyboard solo and a simplistic, though clever guitar riff.
‘Camacho’ definitely hints at the blues, a genre I believe he should be breaching the parameters of (there’s no denying he has the vocals for it); fingers crossed he branches into it next album.
‘Always A Winner’ was a welcome addition to the setlist; ‘Blue Sky Blue’ is an underrated compartment of his extensive discography (I only wish ‘Led’ and the album’s title song had also made the cut).
2017’s ‘Sold’ preceded the encore, where Pete quickly returned to the stage feeding off the frenzy as the lyrics of ‘Opportunity’ jumped from the mouths of punters before his hand had even struck the first chord. The band took a step back while he played the classic as it was originally recorded and intended, raw and acoustically.
The spotlight shifted back on the accompanying musicians during ‘Free’, before Pete drove the show home by effectively etching his new record into the mind of listeners with ‘Heartbeats’.
Reviewing Pete Murray is an absolute no-brainer; the man found his niche exceptionally early in his musical career and honed in on it expertly, playing to his strengths and instinctively pleasing his target audience year after year.
The unexpected change of pace when comparing Pete Murray circa 2017 versus 2013 was not only the addition of an extensive band, but him using their talents to his advantage, all the while allowing each member to shine individually.
By incorporating half a dozen wicked drum, keyboard, bass and guitar solos, Pete transformed his ‘easy-listening’ guitar-strumming tunes into full-blown rock ballads; two birds one stone considering each artist had a solo moment to showcase his exceptional, instrumental abilities.
Granted, it may be easy to accuse Pete Murray of being a little pompous; a chiselled-jaw structure and effortless ability to perform on stage before a crowd can surface those sorts of negative presumptions. Though I can assure you, it was more than thrice the solo musician paid due credit to his accompanying band and those sorts of actions tell more of one’s character than what an attractive appearance and confident demeanour ever will.
Having now heard his early compositions performed subsequently to his recent, an element I find particularly interesting and intriguing is that his debut album ‘Feeler’ was so evidently melancholy, very clearly shaped by heartbreak, anger and disappointment; the sombre sounds obviously appeased to a wide range of people as the catalyst of his massive career.
Though since then, each of his records have become increasingly optimistic. It’s impressive to consider that Pete has been able to sustain that same fan base who was originally drawn to the angsty heart-clenchers, and in fact built on his number of avid followers with warmer, more light-hearted releases.