John Murry swept through the 'End of The Road' Festival (UK) like a dark desert storm on a summers day. So powerful and gut wrenching was his performance of the bitter sweet yet beautiful 'Little Colored Balloons' the final song of his set on Sunday, that seldom have I seen a crowd so emotionally exhausted by what they had witnessed … or for that matter, so many grown men crying!
Playing to a discerning few who had chosen darkness and soul baring, rather than the comfortable folksy pop of Belle & Sebastian, Murry was simply superlative. Whilst Sigur Ros had their fancy light show and David Byrne had his choreographed brass section, Murry made do with his tortured bleeding heart which he wore firmly on his sleeve. Fighting at half the size and weight of his previous incarnation, as part of the duo, Bob Frank & John Murry, who had issued a faultless compilation of murder ballads 'World Without End', in 2006, the man was now drawing on his own real heartbreak, love, life and loss.
With a shambolic between song patter that would have made Shane MacGowan proud, he was accompanied by a superb band who had the professional air of those who had seen it all before. They stood patiently whilst he tuned for ages, intermittently apologising and cursing into the microphone. His most coherent and perhaps insightful oration came when the sound of Belle & Sebastian on the main stage, spilled into the Tipi Tent at the end of a delicate balled. With trademark deadpan delivery, he asked, " ... Shit man, was that country music ... or the sound of paedophilia?". The crowd held their breath, perhaps sensing it could all go wrong at any moment. It never did, every song from the brilliant Tim Mooney produced, 'The Graceless Age' was delivered with an assured and commanding performance.
The finale was when Murry, told he had five minutes left, put down his guitar, bid his keyboard player "play that damned piano man' and reached for the microphone. The result was a jaw dropping rendition of the tale of his near death from a heroin overdose. He sung with such emotion and gut wrenching delivery, that when he reached the end, he simply turned and left the stage with the command to everyone present "sing it" ....and they did, as the band played the final few bars and the crowd broke into thunderous applause.
Tears flowed ... It was the performance of the festival, and the few who saw knew that they seen a genius at work. As I struggled to gain my own composure, I overheard a guy whisper to his wife "...that my dear, is what 'on the edge' actually looks like!
John Murry toured the UK in Sept 2013