Olly Murs at The O2 (photos and review)
Olly Murs at the O2 April 1st 2013
After just one song in the O2 on Monday night, Olly Murs was forced to boot knickers, hats and other unidentified articles of female clothing out of his way, clearing a safe arse-shaking area to further appease his screaming fans of all ages and orientations. As the man says, isn’t it well for some? 2012 Britain’s Got Talent finalists, Loveable Rogues, opened the show with a characteristically jaunty set, regularly signalling Olly’s imminence on-stage for the hungry audience. Having never before attended a concert that took commercial breaks, I suppressed my bile and became wrapped up in the enthusiasm and near-criminal hedonism being revelled in by the thousands of glittery, shrieking, flashing (novelty light-sticks, you fiend), waving and bopping fans, who lit up the arena almost as thoroughly as the main attraction. It can’t be all bad with enthusiasm like this! Surely it’s an attack on the conventions of the type of show we’re used to. Rather than an insidious manifestation of commercialism and studio-systems, it’s clearly a satirical re-hash of the idea of ‘concert,’ aimed self-reflexively at breaking down the calculated bulwarks we’re so accustomed to. Like Bertolt Brecht in twilled cotton.
“Army of Two”, one of the singles from November 2012’s “Right Time Right Place,” opened the night, as the performers stood arrayed on a series of light-fitted steps, grouped in sections. The light show itself was somewhat lacklustre and malfunctioned once or twice. Thankfully, the effervescence of Murs himself outstripped any such worldly concerns. His likeability is by no means an exaggeration on the part of the television cameras, and he bounced to every extremity of available space, determined not to favour any one portion of little girls by covering all areas at once. His manner of speaking to the audience (who were utterly enthralled) made the talking interpolations feel more natural than what the vast majority of frontmen would be up to. The dogma of keep-em-involved worked brilliantly, as even video-apparitions in the sky during costume-changes (two of the four huge video screens at one point featured Olly and two backing vocalists vying for the audiences attention) commanded the actions of the arm-flailing crowd. ‘Dance With me Tonight’ contained a cheeky lyrical switcharoo reminiscent of The Beatles’ ‘I want to hold your gland’ legend, in which the Essex boy blurted out ‘I just want you / to dance on me tonight,’ tempered by a bashful smile and puppy-dog eyes. Suspicious.
Truly, it was a no-holds-barred experience. The gangway was lowered after the fifth song, to allow Olly a foray above the fans’ heads before the grandiose transformed into a brief jam-session on the steps; acoustic guitars and crossed legs. Donavan Hepburn, self-taught drummer, is here worthy of special note. His session-man style was spot on and the great care and attention to detail taken is as easily recognisable in his expression as it is in his actual performance. He even threw in a few sly hi-hat tricks with the left stick. That’s pure professional back-end-of-tour stamina. Having toured with the likes of Take That, Adele, James Morrisson and Robbie Williams, he can expect to be playing in arenas and stadiums for a while yet. As for the entire act, it was an extremely well polished affair; as well as the singles and album work, there was a brief cover session of The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay or Should I go?’ (during which an inexplicable mod roundel was displayed) and The Jam’s ‘Town Called Malice,’ (more like it) and although at times the smell of sweat mixed with anti-ageing cream became overpowering, it was a sensational display. The fans bayed, in ever-increasing ferocity, for Murs’ presence on-stage, his voice as well as his persona, and he wouldn’t have made it back with his life or clothes had he departed for a stage-dive.
The English singer/songwriter and X-Factor co-host will soon release “Troublemaker” his fourth studio album. Olly will be supporting Robbie Williams on his “Take The Crown” Stadium Tour later this year. The tour includes a Dublin show at The Aviva on June 14th.
Review by Luke Etherton
Photos by David Doyle