Gallery + Review :: John Grant & John Murry – Sydney Festival
January 21st 2014
All photos by Julian White
Daniel Prior checked out the opening gig for one of Sydney Festival’s most interesting and beautiful venues, Paradiso at Town Hall.
With Darren Sylvester supplying a one-man opener to the show, the crowd at Paradiso stood around in the surprisingly spacious and vibrant venue at Town Hall. John Murry strolled out on stage after a generous introduction from the MC, who boasted about Murry’s latest album and how well it’s been charting.
“Yeah, why the hell is it charting? It’s about heroin addiction. Y’all must love heroin, huh?”
Murry spoke with a southern twang, but he seemed unable to move any muscle in his face. He also had an obsession with the mysterious disappearance of Prime Minister Harold Holt in 1967, and found something morbidly funny about a pool being named after him.
“You sick bastards. Who the hell names a pool after someone who drowns?”
(Though he also believed the C.I.A. had something to do with it).
Whether this fixation was just a Mississippi thing, or a drug thing, or the effects of dying from an overdose; no one was quite sure. And it doesn’t really matter I suppose.
What does matter is that Murry played a wonder of a performance. The fact that he didn’t play “Little Colored Balloons” was noticed and griped about by several audience members – but for the most part, everyone loved the music he did play. It was impossible not to develop an affection for his ramblings in between songs, despite the artist’s constant apologies about the “the fucking depressing theme of drug addiction.”
Following a brief DJ set, the MC returned to the stage to announce John Grant, saying, “This man needs no introduction…” before looking at his notes to continue his introduction.
Grant appeared and launched straight into the music, before acknowledging all the “fucking hotties” in Sydney. When a few flattered audience members shouted their thanks, he simply replied, “No, thank you!”
Grant gave us an insight into the stories behind his music, including ‘GMF’ – aka ‘Greatest Motherfucker’.
“People were telling me to love myself more and feel good,” he revealed. “So I wrote this song for those people who I think are needing to feel a little bad about themselves more often. Bring down their ego a little.”
Lyrically simple, honest and brutally effective. The combination of Grant’s electronic ballads and the tortured lyrics and Americana sounds of Murry, you have yourself an unforgettable show.