It wasn’t Bob Dylan going electric at Newport.
But TJ & Murphy stepping on stage at Liverpool’s The Zanzibar Club, July 16th, 2011, with electric guitars, leather jackets and backed by a rock ‘n’ roll rhythm section certainly brought anticipation to the Seel Street air.
And a couple of questions too: would their delicate music lose its subtlety and intricacy? Would Liverpool’s favourite folk duo step up and deliver to a rowdy Saturday night crowd, with attention spans to last as long as the drinks in their hands?
Yes and no are the answers.
The music did lose its uniqueness – but gained in dynamics, pacing and the focus being placed on songs rather than performances.
Watching TJ & Murphy climb the ladder has been satisfying for fans of quiet music in this city – but you couldn’t help feeling that everyone at their gigs could play guitar too and was listening for hammer-ons as much as the next chorus. Saturday night was different.
To launch their second record, Hurricanes, the duo took a brave step and seemed delighted with the outcome. As was the packed crowd. The new tunes were good, the playing impeccable as ever and the delivery placed the emphasis on the fantastic bond (both in spirit and harmony) of the co-singers.
The songs from the new album benefitted from rock ‘n’ roll treatment and the rhythm section were understated when required, but found the time and space to stretch out and bring a four-to-the-floor energy rarely seen at a TJ & Murphy gig.
Guitarist Dave Murphy stepped out of the shadows too and walked into his co-front man role with ease, taking the lead vocal at times too. It worked and the variation on the usual theme brought freshness to the band… as I say, they may have lost their uniqueness, but they have gained some definition at the same time.
TJ confirmed to me after the gig that the lads will continue as an acoustic duo too – great news for fans of the Merseyside acoustic scene.
But this writer hopes that the full band wasn’t a one-off: TJ & Murphy might have just taken two steps forward.
At the same time, naturally…
Listen to ‘Goodbye Houston’
Copyright © 2011 Alan O’Hare – Liverpool Acoustic All rights reserved
Re-posted with permission from Liverpool Acoustic