Olly Murs, British pop songwriter and former runner-up on the British X-Factor television show, had his first headlining New York concert this past Thursday night at Irving Plaza. His music has been making its way over here slowly but surely—he’s had two singles in the United States that have had decent radio play and a CD coming out in April of this year.
After some time with a projector sporting a mix of concert ads and a weirdly trippy version of old Betty Boop cartoons, the audience was treated to the sounds of the opening act. Deleasa, comprised of three guys with two acoustic guitars and a standing bass, played music both bouncy and chill, albeit with some random unnecessary high notes. Their music wasn’t really my thing, though their song “Discount Paradise” did catch my attention—especially since it was mixed with Sugar Ray’s “Fly.”
After only one opening act, Olly Murs took the stage promptly at 8:30 (for which I am eternally grateful, as I had work the next morning) with a full band backing him. He started his set off with the retro tune “Dance with Me Tonight,” which sounds like it could have been featured on American Bandstand (read: a great thing). After singing another song, Murs explained that he was looking forward to seeing which songs people knew, since his CD doesn’t come out in America until April.
Murs continued on in his playful, high energy style. His set blended his older and newer songs. He excitedly talked about being in New York, playing homage to the city with a rousing chorus of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” When he forgot some of the lyrics, he made up a few on the spot.
As a performer, Olly Murs is delightful and charismatic. He engages his audience at every turn, in manners both flirtatious and humble (possibly because he’s new to the American music scene?). After proclaiming his single status, Murs said, “Maybe I’ll meet someone here, follow me on twitter, anything could happen.”
Before going into a medley of covers, Murs sang a few bars of “Hot in Here” and debated whether or not he should take his off his clothes, something that actually occurred at a London performance a little while ago. After making the executive decision to remain clothed, Murs began his covers. He covered a medley of Stevie Wonder’s hits, including “Superstition” (his X-Factor audition song), “Sir Duke,” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” Murs chose classic covers that matched his more retro sound and flowed well within the overall context of the show.
Murs closed the show with “Heart Skips a Beat” and “Troublemaker,” (unfortunately sans the guest raps, though Murs did bridge the gaps quite well), his two singles currently out in the United States. The crowd went wild and Murs ended his first NYC headlining concert on quite a high note.
Olly Murs puts on a fun show—he’s got a great voice and knows how to keep his audience involved and entertained. I hope more of his music becomes popular over on our side of the pond—I would be happy to go see more performances of his in the future.